Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are in discussions to make big changes to the posting system that allows MLB teams to sign Japanese players, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Per Badler, the two leagues are discussing placing a cap on the posting fee for players. This would potentially allow multiple teams to win the initial bid for the player, then compete with each other to win said player over. The idea behind the cap is to put more money in the hands of the player -- rather than the team he's leaving -- and to allow the league to count more money against the luxury tax.
It should also rid of the complaints MLB teams have made in the past about blind bidding. The way the system is set up now, most of the money ends up going to NPB teams. When a Japanese player is "posted," MLB clubs secretly bid for him in a four-day silent auction, with the NPB club selecting the winner and taking the entire posting fee. At this point, the winning MLB club gets an exclusive 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the player.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported over the winter that changes were potentially coming to the posting system, but things have been pretty quiet on that front until now. MLB sent out a memo to teams earlier this year informing of potential revisions to the agreement between the two leagues, but at the time it was assumed those talks had more to do with the ramifications of an international draft.
While domestic free agency isn't shaping up to be very exciting this winter, changes to the posting system could make the international market a wild one. Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu is shaping up to be a hotly contested player this fall, and Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka could join him if the blind posting system is indeed adjusted.
The 6'2, 205-pound Tanaka is projected by some scouts to be a No. 2 starter, ready to jump right in to a big-league rotation. The 24-year-old is putting up stellar numbers for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this year, posting a 1.20 earned-run average and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost six-to-one in 158 innings.