Since 1998, the Japanese posting system has called for a bidding process that left just one MLB team with a window to negotiate a contract with a coveted Japanese player. However, the system could be getting a significant overhaul in the near future with changes that could take effect as soon as this November, multiple sources told David Lennon of Newsday.
One of the proposals for a new system would have as many as three teams chosen among the top bidders, with the Japanese player then allowed to choose the club he'd prefer to play for and negotiate with. MLB declined to comment, but senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng acknowledged that they have talked with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) about the issues involving the posting process.
If those changes take place, it will give Masahiro Tanaka the opportunity to have some say in where he'll play in MLB if he decides to make the jump. It's a luxury that previous imports Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish, and many others never had.
The rumored changes could benefit all parties involves. The player, of course, would get the freedom to choose between three clubs rather than being led to just one. Meanwhile, the new system would prevent an MLB team from placing the winning bid for the sole purpose of blocking other clubs without the intention of signing the player. Closing that loophole would benefit both MLB and NPB.
Lennon writes that a great deal of people in baseball believe that the overhaul is overdue. The posting agreement has been renewable on a year-to-year basis, with either side able to re-open conversations about it for the coming offseason, so the opportunity to make alterations has been there.
Last month, Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote that changes to the posting system were being discussed, with one proposal calling for more money to be funnelled to the players themselves rather than the Japanese team.