masahiro tanakaIf you were desperately hoping for a final decision on whether Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka was going to be made available this week, you can stop hoping.

Members from the front office of Tanaka’s team in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, were in attendance at the Winter Meetings yesterday, and did little to clarify whether Tanaka would be posted once the new MLB/NPB agreement is in place early next week.

“I don’t know if $20 million is fair value for this kind of trade,” Rakuten assistant general manager Aki Sasaki said, per Jeff Passan. “I don’t know if it’s the right price.”

Under the new MLB/NPB agreement, Japanese teams would have the right to set a particular price – up to $20 million – for the right to negotiate with one of their players under contract. Every team willing to meet that price could negotiate with the player, but only the team that actually signs him will have to pay it. In Tanaka’s case, if he were made available, virtually every team in baseball would be willing to pay the $20 million fee. The question is whether Rakuten believes it’s enough to let their star go.

If it were up to Tanaka, Passan reports that he would definitely be posted, as a source says Tanaka “absolutely” wants to come to the big leagues. Rakuten, then, is put in a tough position: refuse to post Tanaka because $20 million is too small a bounty, and try to keep Tanaka happy for the next 12 months, knowing that you may have just taken $10s of millions out of his pocket. What happens when Tanaka’s manager asks him to go back out to the mound after throwing 140 pitches through seven innings? At what point does Tanaka think, “Why should I be risking my big payday because these guys decided $20 million wasn’t enough?” It might not actually play out like that, but you can see what an ugly situation it could become.

Ultimately, I still expect Tanaka to be posted, and I still expect the Cubs to be legitimate bidders for his services. We just might not know for a little while yet.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Each team that talks to him pays 2-5 million. That could add up to a better post.

    • noisesquared

      I would’ve liked to have the posting fee be the $20mil max + 10% of guaranteed contract $. Seems a little more friendly towards the NPB teams, and at least compensates them for giving up the lucrative blind bid system.

  • Rebuilding

    I’ll ask again. What is keeping Tanaka from buying out his contract? He supposedly only makes $3.8 million this year. Let’s say it’s $5 next year. Why don’t his people just say look Eagles he’s not pitching for you next year, he’s likely to get $100 million + in the States. We’ll kick you back an extra $8 million to go with the $20 million posting fee

    • Rebuilding

      And I understand it’s just a backdoor posting fee, as he would prob just ask for $8 million or whatever amount more in his contract negotiations, but I just haven’t seen the question asked. It seems like a loophole you could take advantage of

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        I don’t see this loophole. What you are suggesting it seems like It would undermine the entire agreement.

        now depending on the Japanese legal system, I supposed to Tanaka could simply leave Japan come to the United States allow his old team to sue him. he might lose 10 to 12 million dollars but maybe that’s worth it to him. But it just seems like that would have Enormous repercussions

  • David

    I really don’t see Tanaka panning out to be anywhere near as good as the other Japanese guys that have come out… He’s overworked already so a long term deal from the Cubs would be just as damaging as signing a current long term deal with a FA pitcher who’s 32 and wanting 5 years. There’s a lot of mileage on Japanese arms (Darvish was the exception). See Fujikawa, Cubs, 2012. I hope he either doesn’t get posted or the Cubs don’t get him. Just seems like a Dice-K repeat to me.

  • mjhurdle

    Maybe I misunderstand, but isn’t the agreement between the MLB and NPB already final and just waiting to put it in place next week, or is it still getting small changes?
    The only way holding onto Tanaka makes sense to me is if the Golden Eagles are using that as leverage to change the agreement. But if the agreement is all but final, then that is not an option.
    Not sure it makes sense for the Golden Eagles to risk the negative repercussions of refusing to post Tanaka if they are looking at either $20 million this year or next year. But then again I don’t know a whole lot about the NPB, so maybe I am missing something that would explain it.

  • BWA

    Tanaka not being posted seems like an advantage to the Cubs. We are already gonna suck in 2014, so why pay him? Hopefully next offseason the FO knows what we have in Olt, Bryant, Baez, Alcantara, Soler, Arrieta, Edwards, and Johnson and we know if we have Shark or not. Then we can go all out on Tanaka and another big free agent or two to fill holes to put together a decent team.

    • BWA

      And we will have another protected pick! yippee

  • Bob in Cicero

    [Ed. – Not cool] Spend $$ elsewhere.

    • Eric

      You sir, lack dignity and civility. Perhaps it’s time for you to evolve? It is 2013 after all.

    • gocatsgo2003

      There ya go… clicked on the link in the “recent comments” and it had already been edited.

  • Spoda17

    He will get posted. They may think $20 mil is not enough, but it’s still more than ZERO!

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  • ssckelley

    I am still baffled that the Japanese League agreed to a max of only $20 million. The Rangers spent more than that on Darvish and they had to know Tanaka was going to get even more. Obviously the Japanese players love the new posting system as it gives them a lot more flexibility on who they sign with along with more money going to them instead of their previous team.

    As a Cub fan I obviously want to see Tanaka posted as I think the Cubs have just as good of a shot to land him as anybody. But if I am the Rakuten Golden Eagles I do not post him until next season.

  • MightyBear

    I wonder if Tanaka is posted if he would sign a 1 year contract? He would take all the uncertainty out of whether he could pitch in the Majors, there seems to be more pitching available this year than expected and as good as his payday would be this year, if he has a good year, next year he could probably cash in to the tune of about 180 mil or so. I know a bird in the hand but he might think about it.

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