According to reports out of Japan that have been translated by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Rakuten Golden Eagles have decided to post prized right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and make him available for bidding by all 30 MLB teams.
The reported decision comes after weeks of false starts and second guesses by Rakuten following MLB's decision to implement a new posting system that caps bids at $20 million. The new system allows more teams to get involved in the bidding, but will cost Rakuten millions of dollars as past players such as Yu Darvish received bids exceeding $50 million. The demand for the 25-year-old Tanaka likely would have put his bid in that territory, so it’s understandable why Rakuten was upset and therefore hesitant to post.
Ultimately, though, they decided to do right by Tanaka and honor his wishes to pitch in the United States.
“Evaluating Tanaka's contributions in the seven years since joining the franchise, owner Hiroshi Mikitani accepted his wish to challenge himself in the major leagues and decided to petition for him to be posted,” Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana said, according to Japanese news reports.
Once the bids are submitted, the highest bidder will win exclusive negotiating rights with Tanaka. In the case of a tie, which is likely considering how reasonable the new capped fee is, Tanaka will be free to negotiate with the highest bidding teams. Only the team he signs with will pay Rakuten the bidding fee while the others will have their bids returned.
A contract at or above $100 million is awaiting Tanaka once the bidding process goes through. The New York Yankees are considered strong favorites to land his services, but it's reported other teams like the Chicago Cubs will also go all-in on their bids. In other words, Tanaka will have plenty of options to consider and a lot of money to count when his day comes.
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