This offseason could see revisions of the posting system that allows players in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league to jump to MLB, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. A memo from the commissioner's office earlier this year informed MLB clubs the two leagues were discussing possible changes to the system. Sources tell Badler that one potential new provision could be a cap to the posting fee, which could see more money funneled to players rather than the Japanese team and would also allow MLB to count more dollars against the luxury tax. Overall, however, it's not really clear what direction the posting system is headed in. “We’re just operating under the idea that everything’s going to be the same way it was last year," an international director told Badler. “That’s the same as everyone else I talked to.”
Several clubs expect that pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will look to join an MLB team this offseason, according to Badler, which confirms what we've heard in recent months. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has put together a sterling season this year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, compiling a 1.20 ERA across 158 innings with 130 strikeouts and just 22 walks. With an arsenal that includes a low-90s fastball and two plus secondary offerings – including a splitter that grades out at a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale – some scouts project him as a potential No. 2 starter that could help a team immediately, Badler reports.
Badler's article reveals that both the Rangers and Yankees have sent top scouts to Japan to watch the 24-year-old pitch, and could be the favorites to sign him. However, they're not the only teams keeping tabs on the righty as the Red Sox and Twins have also been connected.
Some scouts believe Kenta Maeda, another Japanese righty, could attempt to migrate to the majors this offseason, though the majority believe there's less than a 50 percent chance of that happening, Badler adds. Maeda has a 2.26 ERA in 123 2/3 innings this year, but at just 6 feet and 160 pounds, he probably doesn't have the frame that projects to consistently hold up for 200 innings a season. Maeda might best be served by waiting a year to avoid being posted at the same time as Tanaka. However, several scouts tell Badler they see the 25-year-old as a back-end starter in the majors, and given his smaller size, that isn't likely to change.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.