The New MLB/Japan posting agreement and the Brewers

Koji Watanabe

Congratulations! The Brewers can officially negotiate with Masahiro Tanaka!

Congratulations! You are now a fan of a baseball team that can meet the fee for every single Japanese player that is posted for at least the next three years!

If Yu Darvish were posted today? The Brewers could match the highest fee. Daisuke Matsuzaka? No problem? Norichika Aoki? They already won that one.

The next big Japanese star, Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka? Yeah, the Brewers can absolutely, 100% say they could match whatever the fee will be for him to be posted. In fact, I would go so far as to wager that the Brewers will be involved in discussions with Tanaka. Why am I so confident? Because the new Major League Baseball/Nippon Pro Baseball posting agreement, ratified today, makes it so there is literally no punishment for any team checking in with a posted player.

Here are the big rules to the new agreement:

1. An NPB team will name a "release fee" for a player not exceeding $20 million. That is the amount that an MLB team will have to bid, or I guess just agree to at this point, to pay if they were to sign the player.

2. The NPB team will then officially post the player, along with the fee, between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1.

3. For 30 days following the posting, any of the 30 MLB teams can negotiate with the player so long as they are willing to give up the designated release fee. If an agreement is reached, fee goes to the NPB team, player to the MLB team. If not signing is made within 30 days, the player is returned to his NPB team and cannot be reposted until the following year.

Thus, the Brewers can now negotiate with any Japanese player that is posted by their NPB team. Well, "negotiate". But they should have some sort of contact with the player and his agent, even a brief checking in. If the Yankees or Cubs or whoever are willing to give $100 million, then the Brewers hang up, say "oh well" and move on. If the player's agent says they have a $40 million offer and the Brewers decide they can beat that, then they get in on real negotiations.

Obviously this relates most importantly to Masahiro Tanaka, Rakuten's darling. He has been absolutely outstanding in the NPB, is 25-years-old, has an excellent fastball/splitter combo, and is going to get a lot of money, maybe. That depends on if he is actually posted this offseason (there have been mixed reports out of Japan as Rakuten ownership is pretty upset about losing out on potentially around $80 million in posting fees).

The Brewers won't win on Tanaka, of course. The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox have all shown a bunch of interest and with the lower release fee, dude's going to get a load of money. But now there's no harm in checking in, meaning the Brewers are officially contenders for Tanaka! Though, that's more like how the Astros were contenders for the World Series at the start of last season. It could happen if a lot of weird things take place, but it won't.

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