MLB and NPB close to new posting agreement that gives everyone fair shot at Masahiro Tanaka

The anticipated bidding war for Japanese free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka could be right around the corner as Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are reportedly close to reaching an agreement on a new posting system that will change the way Japanese players are brought to the United States before reaching free agency in NPB.

The proposal on the table, according to Sanspo in Japan and Fox Sports Jon Morosi, features a $20 million maximum bid for all players that are posted by their team in NPB. Under the soon to be extinct system, bids were not capped, so this opens the door for smaller market teams to make serious bids on Japanese free agents they covet.

Of course, another important aspect of the new system is how the process works in case of a tie, which is now likely to be a regular occurrence with capped bidding. Yahoo's Jeff Passan fills us in on those details.

Obviously the system will still favor the teams with the most money since they'll be able to offer the most lucrative contracts, but at least smaller revenue teams will be able to get their foot in the door in negotiations. Only the team that signs the free agent will be required to pay the posting fee, so there's also very little risk for those teams to enter a bid.

On the surface, it looks like a good deal for MLB that should also work out well for the players. On the other side of the ledger, NPB teams will no longer be receiving $50 million bids like those that brought Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish to MLB, which is also significant.

Could that make NPB teams less likely to post players in the future? Jeff Passan has more details on that issue in a column written Wednesday night. It's definitely worth a read as we sort through what all of this means for the future of Japanese free agents. According to multiple reports, an official resolution on the system itself could come as soon as Thursday, so we could be off and running by the weekend. Stay tuned.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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