Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The free-agent market for starting pitchers isn't exactly filled with talent this winter, but we could soon be adding a new name to that market.

According to multiple reports, MLB and the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan are coming close to agreement on a new posting system that would set a $20 million maximum bid, with the details after that still up in the air. Because of the $20 million max bid, there are two ways that the posting system could play out.

1. Let's say that 11 teams post the $20 million max bid on Masahiro Tanaka, the soon-to-be best pitcher on the market once he is posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, then those 11 teams would earn the rights to negotiate a contract with him, and Tanaka would then choose what team he plays for next season.

In that scenario, every team should be able to put in $20 million for the chance to sign Tanaka, and I would bet that more than 11 teams would be in on him. It would be a fair system for both the team and player for getting to decide where he goes. Whoever he chooses would pay the NPB team the $20 million, and everyone else pays nothing.

2. Other reports are suggesting that this option would be the one put in place. MLB teams put in their bid, most likely the $20 million maximum, and then the team with the worst winning percentage the previous season wins the rights for the player's services. That means that Houston Astros are the top team in this case.

If this turns out to be the option chosen -- and I don't think it will be -- then it would completely take the Yankees out of the running to land Tanaka, and that would be a major disappointment considering he has been one of their top targets this offseason.

For the moment, nothing is official yet, as NPB still has to accept the proposal, but they are expected to do that soon, meaning Tanaka is coming. As far as to who he is coming to, and how, we'll have to wait.

Tanaka, a 25-year-old right hander, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 183 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched this past season, leading his team to the NPB championship. Many compare him to Yu Darvish, who has become one of the best pitchers in baseball since coming over to the Texas Rangers through the posting system two years ago.


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