Crasnick’s Latest: Tanaka, Posting System, International Free Agents

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick offers an outstanding look at the ramifications of Masahiro Tanaka's seven-year, $155MM contract with the Yankees. According to Crasnick, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers did not hide his disappointment at the result in a conference call, but also said he didn't feel the process was flawed: "We don't feel cheated whatsoever. We don't feel as if we weren't provided the same opportunities as the Yankees. They just had a better offer, and that's where he chose to go. You move on." Here are some additonal highlights…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Crasnick that he was surprised the media made him out as someone fighting for the rights of all small-market teams for suggesting the posting fee for Japanese players be subject to the luxury tax. "The posting fee, by definition, is part of the cost of signing a player," said Coonelly. "I've always believed it should be considered part of a club's payroll for competitive balance tax purposes. I wasn't speaking on behalf of small market clubs. I was simply speaking on behalf of one of 30 major-league clubs."
  • One anonymous Major League executive told Crasnick that the new posting system completely goes against everything the league has done to keep the cost of player acquisition under control (e.g. draft slotting, capping international spending, the luxury tax). Said the executive: "This is antithetical to everything the teams have tried to do over the last 20 years. So why did they do it? They did it to target the Yankees and Dodgers, because everybody knew they would be interested in Tanaka. The idea of having a $20 million posting fee to allow other teams to compete was ridiculous."
  • That same executive contended that the new posting system will help drive up the prices for Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and future free agent starters. Coonelly completely disagreed: "Mr. Tanaka's contract may be a good comparable for the next outstanding young 25-year-old professional pitcher who comes over for Japan after a 24-0 season. I can't see him being much of a comparable for anybody else."
  • Crasnick also looks at the challenges that lie ahead in the international market, with one baseball official noting that should the next version of the posting system restructure the posting fee, it could lead to Japanese teams essentially selling players to MLB rather than trying to build competitive teams. Beyond that, Crasnick tackles the difference in how Latin American and Japanese free agents are treated by MLB. The entire article is well worth the read.

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