The fate of sought-after right-hander Masahiro Tanaka could be clarified as early as next week, the president of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles said Wednesday.
Tanaka, who went 24-0 this season and was the Pacific League’s MVP, has expressed a desire to play in the majors, and the club has said it will consider his wishes. But the agreement in principle on a new posting system that caps posting fees to Nippon Professional Baseball teams at $20 million has muddied the waters.
Speaking at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, Eagles president Yozo Tachibana said he could meet with his ace as early as next Monday and hear what the pitcher has to say.
“As far as our side is concerned, he is a valuable pitcher,” said Tachibana, who will be at the meetings until Thursday. “I will tell him that we want him to stay with us next season.”
“Some have expressed the opinion that it (the $20 million posting fee limit) is low, but the system is what it is and I think we have no choice but to accept it.”
After hearing reports in the American media that Eagles owner Hiroshi Mikitani would not approve Tanaka’s transfer, Tachibana said, “This is not for the owner and I to decide. It is a decision the company must make.”
Prior to the current revision of the posting system and due to a scarcity of free agent pitchers on the market this winter, Tanaka was widely expected to attract the highest posting bid in history.
The previous mark was the $51.7 million posted by the Texas Rangers for pitcher Yu Darvish’s rights last winter. That figure surpassed the $51.1 million bid by the Boston Red Sox to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006.
If Tanaka is posted under the pending agreement, every team that agrees to the posting fee asked by the Eagles (up to $20 million) will be able to negotiate with the pitcher.