Nov. 17: Suzuki is going to be posted next week, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. That would give him approximately one week to negotiate with MLB teams before the CBA expires on December 1.
Nov. 16: It had already been reported that the Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball were planning on posting outfielder Seiya Suzuki for Major League teams this winter, and now the team has confirmed those reports. After the team made the announcement earlier today, Suzuki spoke to the media about his planned transition, as relayed by Nikkan Sports and Yahoo Japan. (Both links in Japanese.)
Although the club confirmed that Suzuki will soon be posted, it doesn’t seem as though the posting has been made official just yet. This is potentially an important detail because once the posting is made official, it starts a 30-day window for MLB teams to negotiate with Suzuki and his representatives. If that clock runs out without Suzuki having signed an MLB deal, he will return to the Carp.
This year, that has the potential to coincide with the December 1 expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which could reportedly lead to a transaction freeze. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic addressed this issue, reporting that “MLB and NPB were close to an agreement in which that clock would be stopped in the event of an industry lockout.” The wording is vague there, making it unclear if the agreement is actually in place or not, but that would be another noteworthy detail in this saga. Hypothetically, even if Suzuki were posted tomorrow, just two weeks would transpire before December 1 and the expiring of the CBA. If a transaction freeze were then implemented, Suzuki’s 30-day clock would be paused, leaving him with more than two weeks of negotiating time after a new CBA is implemented and transactions are resumed. Of course, all of that is contingent on that MLB-NPB agreement having been finalized.
Suzuki, 27, has been one of the best players in NPB in recent years and figures to have a robust market once the posting is made official. MLBTR recently ranked him 20th on the annual list of top free agents, noting that he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat with competent defense, and projecting he could land a contract of $55MM over five years. Since rumors of his posting emerged, he’s already been connected to the Giants, Rangers and Red Sox. Any big league team that signs Suzuki would owe the Carp a fee equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM and 15% of any dollars thereafter. For example, if Suzuki were signed for $55MM as MLBTR predicted, the signing team would have to pay the Carp $10.125MM, bringing the total bill to $65.125MM.