NPB Likely to Accept $20 Million Posting Fee; Tanaka Would be in Play

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball are likely coming to terms on an $20 million posting fee agreement that will reopen the posting talks to Japanese employed players.

A Japanese report  surfaced which was then passed along to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker that all but one team are in favor of the proposed posting changes. Masahiro Tanaka‘s team, The  Rakuten Golden Eagles, are the lone team against it; which is understandable.

What this all means in retrospect to Major League Baseball is that any player currently employed by a team in the NPB would have to pony up a posting fee agreed by the two teams. The certain amount of money will be the ticket to start negotiations to bring said player to the United States.

Tanaka is one of the top pitchers in MLB’s Hot Stove season this winter and he technically can’t be had until an agreement is reached. Now that it looks to be a reality, the speculation is on in terms of the number of teams interested.

At this point, the front-runner would have to be the New York Yankees. Other than adding a catcher — which they did in the services of Brian McCann — they need to add to their starting rotation. C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova are the only two pitchers worth considering in their rotation. Would it be best to go out and spend money on a Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana? At Yankee Stadium, it’s not the best fit for any of those three.

Tanaka’s 2013 numbers would be considered legendary in the United States. He finished with a 24-0 record with a 1.27 ERA in 28 starts and 212 innings pitched. In fact, he’s produced an ERA less than two for three consecutive seasons. Clayton Kershaw, who we revere as by far the best pitcher in baseball in the states, has won the ERA title three consecutive years in the National League, but only once did he finish with an ERA under two in that stretch (’13 – 1.83).

The argument can be made the NPB’s game-play style compared to the United States is different; particularly with the strike zone. MLB’s strike-zone is tighter combined with the shorter dimensions, especially at Yankee Stadium make it a tougher challenge for pitching . Yu Darvish is doing pretty well in Texas, which plays to a considerable hitter’s ball park.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins and potentially one or both of the Los Angeles teams among many others could produce a bidding war with the Yankees. It’s certain and almost a forgone conclusion the Yankees will be involved in someway-shape-or-form.

With the Yankees having spent $238 million already on McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, it would be hard-pressed to think they could afford Tanaka and Robinson Cano. Alex Rodriguez‘s status hasn’t even been determined yet and he’s owed $25 million in 2014 if somehow his suspension gets eliminated.

Tanaka’s posting fee would not get counted against the luxury-tax threshold the Yankees are facing, but if they were to re-sign Cano and bid up and eventually sign Tanaka, the luxury-tax wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion anymore because they would have already exceeded $189 million in 2013 payroll.

At this point,  the Yankees need pitching and they need it now. Expect them to be suitors for Tanaka as they can pay basically more than anyone else. They are easily the favorites if the statement they are sending out with the Ellsbury signing is true…  ‘

‘Money is no object.’

Follow Outside Pitch Sports Network’s Andrew Vigliotti on Twitter for more updates @Andrew_Vig

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