MLB at odds with Japan over posting rules

Orlando, FL ( - Major League Baseball has withdrawn its most recent proposal to Nippon Professional Baseball for a revised bidding system on Japanese league players that intend to play in North America.

MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred confirmed the impasse while speaking during Thursday's general managers and owners meetings, citing that the NPB has been stalling as to whether or not to accept the new agreement.

"What I would tell you is that we made a proposal to the Japanese," Manfred told "When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they have not been able to do that."

The failure of the two leagues to find common ground could have a significant effect on this year's free agent market, where Rakuten Golden Eagles star Masahiro Tanaka is expected to be among the most sought-after pitchers. If a deal over the posting process cannot be reached, Tanaka would have to spend two more years in Japan in order to qualify for free agency.

In an effort to reduce expenses for North American teams and create a more competitive environment between large and small-market clubs, MLB wants to change the posting rules presently in place. Under the system that has been in place since 1998, major league teams have bid secretly to Japanese franchises for the right to negotiate exclusively with an eligible player for 30 days. If that player does not sign, he returns to his former team and the posting fee is negated.

The new proposal calls for the Japanese team to receive the average amount of the top two bids instead of the top figure, and the MLB club would receive a penalty if unable to come to an agreement within the 30-day window.

Japan's players association approved the plan under much debate, with the teams scheduled to vote on Monday. However, Manfred said that the NPB is not prepared to provide a formal response on the matter at this time.

According to Manfred, MLB will continue to negotiate with the Japanese league in hopes of hammering out an agreement.

The current posting system has paved the way for several Japanese stars, most notably Ichiro Suzuki, 2013 American League Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, to reach the majors prior to the nine-year service requirement to achieve free agency.

Tanaka, who went 24-0 for Rakuten this past season and led the Golden Eagles to the 2013 Japan Series championship, is believed to command a bid exceeding the record $51.7 million the Texas Rangers paid to obtain Darvish from the Nippon Ham Fighters prior to the 2012 campaign.


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