masahiro tanakaBaseball America’s Ben Badler is a smart dude, and he puts into words my thoughts on the Masahiro Tanaka posting situation about as well as I could have. If you care at all about the Tanaka story, it is required reading.

I don’t want to ape Badler’s work, but the gist is a more amplified version of what many of us have been discussing in the comments over the past few days: while the Rakuten Eagles (Tanaka’s team) may be pissed that their $70+ million payday just shrank to $20 million, that’s still a lot of money to turn your back on because of pride. More importantly, if Rakuten doesn’t post Tanaka this offseason, they could have a problem next offseason when they try to post him (he’s under team control for two more years). Sensing a bigger payday if he waited just one more year and was a true free agent, Tanaka could make a $20 million bet on himself and refuse to sign with whatever MLB team wins his rights next year. If that happens, Rakuten gets nothing. For the record, $20 million is more than nothing.

Badler’s piece links to a couple Japanese articles featuring thoughts from Rakuten’s president that imply he will leave the posting decision up to Tanaka. Perhaps the team will figure out a way to entice Tanaka to stay, but he’s looking at a $100 million payday in the States, and made just $3.8 million in Japan last year. The economics here are stark, and it’s almost impossible to envision Tanaka not wanting to make the leap now, when his value is arguably the highest. After all, the very posting changes that are frustrating Rakuten are designed to put a hell of a lot more money in Tanaka’s pocket.

To my mind, assuming Rakuten acts rationally, and assuming Tanaka doesn’t have some yet unknown reason for staying in Japan, there is very little reason to believe he won’t be posted. The MLB/NPB deal could be formalized next week, and we could have our answer soon. If Tanaka is posted under the new system, as it has been reported, teams will be able to bid for his rights, up to $20 million. The teams that tie for his rights at $20 million will be able to negotiate with him over the following month of craziness. (Yes, that will definitely produce an Obsessive Tanaka Watch.)

  • 20kman

    tanaka will sign with a team for a variety of reasons but most likely the city he plays in will have good sized asian population, the team will be successful on the field and be offered a large contract as well as have a history of having other asian players having success on that team.

  • Cub Lifer

    What is going to compel Tanaka to sign with the rebuilding Cubs when he will have his pick of multiple teams? Also, we just experience a bunch of teams hand out excessive money to several free agents, so why therefore would anybody think the Cubs have a financial leg up versus other teams when it comes to offerin Tanaka the biggest salary?

    Tanaka is not coming to Chicago. Seriously, why on earth would he when he can immediately go play for a contender, perhaps also play in a market with a sizable Japanese American population and still max out or come close to maxing out his salary potential?

    • MichiganGoat

      He will go to whoever pays him the most, he’s not going to worry about who is a contender he and is agent will go where he gets paid the most.

  • TK

    Regardless of my earlier extremely optimistic comments, I truly feel that Tanaka will go to LA or NY. One of the reasons I feel as such is HIS WIFE. For those who dont know, he is married to a very popular, and beautiful, JPop star. She also makes frequent TV appearances and does TV/radio commercials.

    NY has TVJapan (US TV station that broadcasts in Japanese, broadcasts Japanese programs) as well as many other TV and radio outlets through which she can continue her career.

    LA, well its LA! I think LA will be their clear #1 choice. Its got even better potential for her. They also would be MUCH closer to Japan so as to travel back and forth for appearances and performances. The weather is beautiful. Beaches, shopping, and just a short trip to the slopes. LA would be good for him in all aspects. And we know that the LA teams have the money to sign him.

    As much as I want him, I truly feel hes going to LA.

    • TK

      JPop = she’s a Japanese Pop singer.