Japan’s players union requested on Monday that players be allowed to gauge market interest in their services before they file for free agency.
According to Tadahito Mori, the secretary general of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, teams that refuse to negotiate with their own players who file for free agency makes it difficult for players to exercise their right to seek fair market value for their services.
“If a player is permitted to talk with other teams before committing himself to free agency, it makes the system easier to use,” Mori said after an informal negotiating session.
Hiroshima Carp general manager Kiyoaki Suzuki, who chairs Nippon Professional Baseball’s committee on player relations, indicated his disapproval of such a change.
“The whole purpose of free agency is to allow the players to talk to other teams,” Suzuki said.
Japanese players signed out of high school now qualify for domestic free agency after eight years, while older players can move within NPB after seven years of first-team service. Players are not permitted to file with teams overseas until they have spent nine years on first-team rosters.
The union also asked NPB to clarify how the interference rule applies to runners sliding into second base. On April 3, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks second baseman Keizo Kawashima suffered ligament damage on a play at second base. Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters runner Kensuke Tanaka, attempting to prevent Kawashima from completing a double play, used his legs to upend the infielder.
NPB’s chief of umpires Masato Tomoyose said Tanaka’s slide was legal under the rules that have been in force. However, a document has been sent to all 12 teams cautioning them about dangerous slides in that situation and that in January, the contents of the document would be explained to all the teams.
This year the major leagues initiated a rule to reduce collisions on potential double plays at second base, but Osamu Ino, who sits on both NPB’s umpiring technical committee and Japanese baseball’s rules committee, told Kyodo News recently that Tanaka’s slide would have been permitted even under Major League Baseball’s tighter restrictions.
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