Big news coming out of the MLB and NPB talks regarding their lapsed agreement to allow Japanese players to come over to the States – well, it’s big news in that it’s important, not that it’s a surprise. The two sides today announced a new agreement that will reportedly allow Japanese teams to make their players available to MLB teams for a posting price, which they will set, up to a maximum of $20 million. Should multiple teams offer that maximum price on a given player, each such team will be permitted to negotiate with the player. Only the team signing the player will actually be required to pay the posting price, thus, on the biggest stars, you will see a large number of MLB teams offering the posting fee.
More importantly in the near-term, a report out of Japan (via Dylan Hernandez) says that 25-year-old ace Masahiro Tanaka will be permitted to head to the United States under the new system. Take the report with a grain of salt, given the inherent translation issues and our own inability to determine its credibility, but it’s the first local report that explicitly says Tanaka will be posted.
Assuming he is made available – an assumption I’ve been making since day one – the Chicago Cubs are expected to be involved in the process. How “involved” is “involved” is a matter of some debate, though even today, Buster Olney reports that the buzz among executives around baseball is that the Cubs are “poised to try to strike big on Tanaka.”
Given that Tanaka is expected to command a nine-figure contract, the question ultimately will not be whether the Cubs want Tanaka – assuming their scouts like him, he certainly fits The Plan to a T – it is instead whether the necessary money will be there.