Last night, we learned that the Major League Baseball Player’s Association had extended its deadline to finalize an agreement regarding the transfer system for players moving between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball. With a new union-imposed stopping point at 8pm EST today, the parties in interest — including the three entities just mentioned as well as NPB’s member teams, individually — are expected to continue negotiating in hopes of finding agreement on posting rules that will allow NPB clubs to make certain players available to MLB teams — including, especially, young Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani.
We’ll use this post to track and analyze the key news on talks as it hits the wire:
- There’s general optimism that something will get done, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Sherman tweets that the talks are “down to [a] few items,” but notes that the signals are that tonight’s deadline is a firm one for reaching agreement.
- There has been a critical potential settlement of one major sticking point, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter links). MLB and MLBPA have resolved their differences regarding the question of when NPB teams would have the ability to “pull back” posted players who do not achieve a contract that would convey sufficient transfer fee value to their would-be former organization. This provision — the details of which remain unknown — will still need to be considered by NPB and its teams, of course, but resolution of the matter might conceivably put the parties on track to finalizing a deal.
- “Pull back” rights are of particular importance to the system’s operation because the new rules under contemplation would allow NPB teams to collect a percentage of a contract’s guarantee as the transfer fee, rather than a fixed transfer amount determined before the player in question tries to work out an agreement with a MLB club. Understandably, NPB teams are interested in protecting themselves if a player’s market does not develop as hoped, while the union is likely concerned with the possibility that too much latitude might engender disruptions in the broader player market, potentially harming MLB free agents.
- While that report generally strikes an optimistic tone, Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link) hears that “big hurdles” remain. Whether those revolve around the pull-back issue or others is not clear at this moment.