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New posting system discussed by MLB, NPB as Otani eyes majors

Kyodo

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are discussing two proposals to replace the current posting system that would eliminate Japanese teams’ ability to set a negotiating price for posted players.

Speaking at Wednesday’s NPB owners meeting, Giants owner Shoichi Oikawa said two proposals are on the table to replace the current posting fee — which is capped at $20 million for Japanese teams. Both proposals are based on the NPB team receiving 15 percent of the amount of money paid to their posted player by an MLB team (signing bonus, salary and incentives).

One proposal would be a flat 15 percent, and the other would be 15 percent until payment to the player exceeds $100 million, at that point the NPB team would receive $20 million.

For pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish, the Seibu Lions and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, respectively, each received in the neighborhood of $50 million for their negotiating rights under a sealed-bid system.

That system was revised in 2013 to make it “more fair” by capping the posting fee at $20 million but turning the player into a quasi free agent, free to negotiate with any MLB club willing to pay his NPB team’s fee.

Ironically, that revision came just weeks ahead of Masahiro Tanaka’s posting. After going 24-0 and leading the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series victory, Rakuten was anticipating a posting fee in the area of $100 million. They were the only holdout when NPB owners voted to accept the $20 million cap, although the Fighters, who had posted Darvish, argued loud and hard against the cap.

As if that were not enough, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement puts strict limits on signing bonuses and contracts to overseas players under 25 — even if they are established veterans in top-flight professional leagues like the Fighters’ Shohei Otani, who is 23.

By eliminating the ability of the Fighters to ask for a less-than-equitable $20 million in exchange for Otani, the new system would limit the Fighters’ payoff to a maximum of around $1 million.