Tanaka posting fee set at $20M max

Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional League have agreed on a new posting system, which means that Masahiro Tanaka could be a free agent soon. However, since the limit on the fee is $20 million, Tanaka's club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, may not post him.

"We don't know if this is the right value for this type of trade," Rakuten assistant GM Aki Sasaki said at the winter meetings in Orlando last week.

A source said they expected Rakuten to decide shortly. There have been varying reports on if they will post him or not.

"No one knows," a source said. "Only Rakuten and Tanaka will decide."

In two years, Tanaka can automatically become an international free agent. If the Golden Eagles wanted to maximize the benefit for themselves, they could retain Tanaka for one more season and then post him next year at this time. (He is reportedly a free agent in Japan after this season, but he still wouldn't be eligible to come to the States without being posted.)

Tanaka has expressed to team officials a desire to come to the United States and play, according to Sasaki. Now, the system is in place, but will he be a free agent this year, next or in two years?

The Yankees are expected to be big players for Tanaka, if he does post.

Here is the MLB release on the new system:

The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has agreed to terms with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) on revised protocols for the posting system shared by the leagues. MLB’s Executive Council approved the new agreement today.

The following points comprise the protocols of the new system:

If an NPB Club wishes to make one of its players available to Major League Clubs, the NPB shall notify the Office of the Commissioner of the NPB player's potential availability and the “release fee” that a Major League Club must pay to the NPB Club in order to secure the NPB player's release. The NPB Club may not set the release fee at an amount higher than $20 million and the fee cannot be changed once it has been set by the NPB Club.

The Office of the Commissioner shall then "post" the NPB player's availability by notifying all Major League Clubs of the NPB player's availability and the release fee sought by the NPB Club.

All "postings" of NPB players must be made between November 1st and February 1st.

Beginning the day after the player is posted, and concluding 30 days later, any Major League Club willing to pay the release fee set by the NPB Club may then negotiate with the player in an attempt to reach an agreement on a contract.

If a Major League Club is able to reach an agreement on a contract with the posted NPB player, the Major League Club must pay the NPB Club the designated release fee, which will occur in installments, the timing of which depends on the size of the release fee.

If the posted NPB player fails to reach an agreement with a Major League Club, the release fee is not owed, the NPB player remains under reserve to his NPB Club, and the player may not be posted again until the following November 1st.

The term of the new posting agreement is three years, continuing from year-to-year thereafter until either the Office of the Commissioner or the NPB gives notice of its intent to terminate the agreement one hundred and eighty days prior to the anniversary of the commencement of the agreement.

MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said: “We are pleased to have amicably reached an agreement that addresses various issues raised by all parties. Major League Baseball values its longstanding professional relationship with Nippon Professional Baseball, and we look forward to continuing the growth of the great game we share in the years to come.”