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Latest On The MLB/Japan Posting System

Major League Baseball's posting agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball has expired but a reworked version of the system would be announced soon, and perhaps as early as Tuesday (according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post and Newsday's David Lennon via Twitter). 

As Davidoff explains in a series of tweets, the new system would still award the highest-bidding Major League team the rights to negotiate with a Japanese player, but the team would only have to pay a posting fee equal to the average of the top two bids.  This helps prevent a team from posting a very large bid just to block other teams from getting a player, or guards "against one team going rogue and bidding an insane number," as Davidoff puts it.  Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) cites a Japanese report which states that a Major League team that wins a posting bid would be fined if they can't reach an agreement with the player.

This plan is meeting some resistance from the Japanese players union, according to a report from the Sponichi network (hat tip to MLBTR's Aaron Steen for the translation).  The players are asking for a system in which posted players are allowed to negotiate with several teams.  In regards to a team overbidding just to block a rival from getting a player, a spokesperson for the players union said they would "also like to hear from NPB on a penalty fee when negotiations between a player and an MLB team break down."  Some NPB teams are in favor of implementing a new system without player approval, while other clubs would just implement the new system temporarily and revisit negotiations in a year's time.

There has been speculation for months that the MLB/NPB posting agreement was going to be overhauled in order to create a fairer system for both leagues and the players themselves.  One rumored scenario would've allowed a posted player to choose which of the three highest-bidding teams he'd prefer to negotiate with, giving him some say in the matter of his Major League future.

Another alternative would be to bypass the posting system altogether, which MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom writes is "the sentiment among a growing number of Major League owners."  Without the posting process, MLB teams would have to wait until Japanese players reached free agency (like Hideki Matsui or Koji Uehara) after nine NPB seasons, and then they would be free to sign with any team in any country.

The player most directly impacted by possible changes to the posting system is, of course, Masahiro Tanaka.  The offseason's top free agent pitcher has drawn interest from many teams, and even if the posting system is altered in favor of averaged bids, big-spending clubs like the Dodgers and Yankees would still seem to have the inside track on Tanaka.








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