While a great deal of uncertainty surrounds Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the agents and executives polled by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports all agreed on one thing -- Tanaka will surpass the posting fee and contract of Yu Darvish and become the most expensive Japenese player ever to be posted.
The Rangers won the bidding for Darvish (and subsequently signed him to a six-year deal) by submitting a $51.7MM bid that was more than $20MM more than the second-highest bid, according to Passan. However, one high-ranking NL exec told Passan that he thinks the posting fee alone could reach $100MM, and most of the others to whom Passan spoke predicted something in the vicinity of $75MM.
Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are still trying to agree on alterations to the posting system, which will delay the process a bit. There have been several rumored changes, including the possibility that the player would get to select one team from the three highest bidders and negotiate solely with that club. Passan reports that one proposed alternative would find a midpoint between the top two bids, and the highest-bidding team would then pay that amount to the NPB team as a posting fee. Such a system would help MLB to achieve its goal of getting more money to the players, though NPB's ultimate goal is to receive more money for losing its best players.
Tanaka does not currently have an agent, and Passan notes that his team has kept him isolated from those who have made efforts to recruit him. Some speculate that he already has an agreement with an agent but doesn't want to make an announcement until the conclusion of the Japan Series. Part of the reason that Tanaka's price tag is expected to soar so high is that he will not cost a draft pick to sign, nor will his posting fee count against the luxury tax threshold of $189MM.
Tanaka's numbers are breathtaking, as he's pitched to a perfect 24-0 record with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this season between the regular season and the postseason. Tanaka turns 25 today and is set to make his final start of the season tomorrow in a potentially Japan Series-clinching game, Passan points out. Tanaka has a lifetime 2.30 ERA with a 1,238-to-275 K/BB ratio in 1,315 career innings.
Despite those gaudy numbers, many believe that he doesn't have Darvish's ceiling and isn't an MLB-caliber ace, though a report from Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith earlier today cited multiple unnamed executives who believed Tanaka could be an ace at this level.