Japanese League Agrees With MLB on Terms for Player Talks

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball agreed to new terms that cap the amount U.S. teams pay for the right to negotiate with Japanese players.

MLB organizations can’t pay more than $20 million to Japanese teams for the right to negotiate with players under the new posting system, Atsushi Ihara, an official with NPB, told reporters in Tokyo today. The agreement is effective for the next three years and the fee is in addition to whatever contract the player signs.

The rule will allow smaller market U.S. teams to compete and limits money NPB clubs such as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles may receive for prized players like Masahiro Tanaka, who led the team to its first Japanese championship this year. The 25-year-old pitcher posted a 24-0 record and a 1.27 earned-run average during the regular season.

“Major League Baseball values its longstanding professional relationship with Nippon Professional Baseball,” MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said in a statement on the organization’s website. “We look forward to continuing the growth of the great game we share in the years to come.”

Tanaka met with Rakuten baseball official Yozo Tachibana and told him he wants to play in the U.S. through the new agreement, according to a report from Kyodo. The team is undecided on whether to allow Tanaka to negotiate with U.S. clubs, Kyodo said.

Japanese companies that own teams include SoftBank Corp., Nippon Meat Packers Inc. and mobile-phone gamemaker DeNA Co.

Yu Darvish

“It’s important the posting system survives,” said Hideki Morikawa, a spokesman for Orix Corp.’s Buffaloes team, based in western Japan.

SoftBank declined to comment on the agreement, according to company spokesman Kenichi Yuasa, who cited company policy that prohibits posting players.

When pitcher Yu Darvish was auctioned about two years ago, the Texas Rangers paid $51.7 million for the right to negotiate with him. The Rangers paid an additional $60 million for Darvish’s contract, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Boston Red Sox paid a posting fee of $51.1 million to the Seibu Lions for Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, according to the Boston Globe.