Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are discussing significant changes to the posting system that brings players from Japan to the major leagues, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
While the talks haven't moved beyond cursory stages, MLB is pushing NPB for a system in which teams no longer would bid blindly for the right to negotiate with a player but rather would participate in a traditional, open auction, the sources said.
Such a format likely would lessen the amount of money funneled toward the Japanese team that posts the player. In the cases of Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, their NPB teams received more than a $50 million windfall, a huge boon for a league with manifold financial struggles.
MLB and the players' union agree they'd prefer to see a larger percentage of the money spent on high-end imports go to the player, the sources said. Darvish received a six-year, $60 million contract from the Texas Rangers on top of their posting fee, and Matsuzaka signed with the Boston Red Sox for six years and $52 million.
Major league executives expect no players this season to post from NPB, which owns players' rights for nine seasons before they become free agents eligible to play in MLB without a posting fee. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the posting auction for Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin with a $25.75 million bid and have less than two weeks to finalize a contract with him or lose his rights. When the player does not sign, as occurred last year with shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and the New York Yankees, the posting fee is refunded.
MLB will continue communicating with NPB throughout the year and hopes to have the new policy implemented following the 2013 season, sources said. MLB declined to comment. An email to a spokesman for NPB was not returned.
The relationship between the leagues has been historically amicable and strong, and the posting system was instituted after Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano exploited loopholes in the leagues' agreement to go from Japan to the United States without compensation.
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