The NPB held a twelve-team representatives meeting on Tuesday to discuss the posting system. Officials from the NPB and MLB are expected to resume telephone negotiations within the next few days. NPB Secretary General Atsushi Ihara told reporters they were able to work out how they wanted to proceed, but mentioned little else since discussions were still ongoing.
Rakuten Eagles President Yozo Tachibana took part in the meeting as well.
The latest on the posting system from the New York Post's Joel Sherman:
... One person briefed on the matter said he believed that if something is not resolved in the next 7-10 days, the probability of having a system this offseason all but disappears, because MLB teams need to know sooner or later whether to budget for the chase.
Officials for the two sides and the Players Association met in person last week, and were expected to continue talks this week by phone. MLB officials have been determined to try to lower the fees transferred from their teams to Japanese clubs as part of the process to gain exclusive negotiating rights, and have indicated that the days of giving more than $51 million to a Japanese team simply for the right to then negotiate with Matsuzaka or Yu Darvish is gone.
MLB has a current proposal that involves a max threshold of just $20 million. In this scenario, MLB teams could put in a blind bid from nothing to $20 million, no more. What would happen if multiple teams bid $20 million – which would almost certainly be the case with Tanaka – has not fully been determined. However, the likelihood is the Japanese player would get to pick with which team he wants to negotiate.
Japanese officials are said to be strongly against this system, feeling it does not pay their teams enough for the player.
Source: New York Post 12/4/2013
The New York Yankees have made Hiroki Kuroda an offer. From ESPN's Andrew Marchand:
The Yankees have extended an offer to starter Hiroki Kuroda in an attempt to entice the right-hander to pitch one more season in the Bronx instead of retiring or returning to Japan to play, a source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPNNewYork.com.
The exact figure of the one-year offer is unknown, but it is expected to be in the $15 million to $16 million range. Kuroda, 38, made $15 million in 2013. Prior to free agency, he turned down the Yankees' qualifying offer of $14.1 million.
The Baltimore Orioles are interested in Tomokazu Oka. From MASN's Roch Kubatko:
Is there a real possibility that the Orioles will sign Tomo Ohka?
Quite real. Earlier this week, I passed along a report from Japan that the Orioles were interested in Ohka, and I can't find anyone who disputes it. He's Japanese. He's a converted knuckleballer. He has ties to Duquette. It's the perfect storm. Stay tuned.
Source: MASN 11/28/2013
This was in response to reports in the Japanese media that Baltimore might be interested in Oka.
Source: Sponichi 12/3/2013
There are now three possible outcomes for the new posting system agreement, tweets the NY Times' David Waldstein.
MLB & Japan baseball execs have narrowed negotiations to 3 possible outcomes for new posting system. 1 of them is expected to be agreed upon
Sponichi reports that one of the possible outcomes might give teams with the top bids (within a set upper limit) the right to negotiate with posted players in the ordered they finished in the standings, from last to first place.
Source: Sponichi 12/3/2013
An NPB representative was in New York on the 26th and 27th with the hopes of hammering out a deal before the Thanksgiving holiday, but an agreement could not be reached. The NPB is planning to resume telephone discussions with the MLB once they have had a chance to meet on December 3. The focus of the meeting will be to get everyone caught up on current negotiations and to round up opinions and suggestions.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/30/2013
One of the proposals submitted by the MLB apparently called for an upper limit on posting bids of about twenty million US dollars. In return for the limit, posted players would be given the opportunity to negotiate with as many teams that make bids at the upper limit.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/30/2013
Posting agreement discussions are ongoing -- the first day was on the 26th and will continue to the 27th. NPB general secretary Atsushi Ihara told reporters that talks after the first day were between difficult and going well. He also said he felt it would be best if current discussions in New York led to resolution.
Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi also posted a few bits about what the MLB might be pushing. A snip:
... With talks resuming this week, the MLB commissioner's office could choose to exercise its considerable leverage by negotiating the price point downward. If the figure was 50 percent in the last proposal, MLB can declare the negotiation a success if the Japanese club's take ultimately drops to 40 or 30 percent.
The union for Japanese players would like Tanaka -- and others -- to have the ability to choose among the top two or three bidders. Over time, though, the JPBPA has been reluctant to strike or take legal action in order to obtain that right.
"Striking is too traumatic -- they did it once -- and court takes too long," said Robert Whiting, an author and expert on Japanese baseball. MLB and NPB know this and can exploit the JPBPA's reluctance to use those forms of leverage.
Similarly, MLB has a better bargaining position than NPB. Clubs such as Rakuten know their superstar players are likely to sign with MLB clubs once they become international free agents. (For Tanaka, that would happen after two more seasons.) The posting system is a very lucrative way for NPB teams to be compensated for losing their superstars; the Japanese teams don’t want to lose that windfall.
Source: Fox Sports 11/20/2013
Tsuyoshi Wada is set on playing in the Majors next season and is not ready to return to Japan. Daily Sports has heard that he has already turned away a number of NPB teams.
Source: Daily Sports 11/27/2013
Hideo Nomo has made it onto the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. He is the first Japanese player to make it onto the list.
Source: official announcement
Nobuhisa Ito, head of the NPB's legal department, is scheduled to fly out to the United States to continue negotiations on the new posting system agreement. Ito could leave for the States as early as the 26th. The two sides could come to some sort of an agreement by Thanksgiving Day.
Tomokazu Oka (37) attended a tryout in Arizona in late-October. A number of MLB teams, including the Baltimore Orioles, are interested in the veteran pitcher.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/23/2013
The Baltimore Orioles will not attempt to re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada. From MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko:
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed today that the club won't attempt to re-sign free-agent pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada after declining to pick up his $5 million option for 2014.
... The Orioles chose not to recall Wada as rosters expanded in September, mostly because they didn't want to experiment with him while in a pennant race.
Duquette had indicated that the Orioles would attempt to re-sign Wada at a reduced rate, perhaps hoping that he'd accept a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, but it's not going to happen. Apparently, the Orioles didn't attempt to negotiate with him.
"I think that the Wada chapter is over with the Orioles," Duquette said. "We're just going in another direction."
Source: MASN Sports 11/21/2013
The latest on Yu Darvish's back, from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan:
... Darvish, who finished this past season experiencing inflammation in his lower back, was examined by Dr. Drew Dossett this week while in Texas and underwent an MRI. The results showed that the inflammation from the nerve irritation has subsided.
Darvish will continue with his conditioning program and be able to go through his normal offseason throwing program without any issues. He will work out in Texas for the next few days before returning to Japan.
Source: MLB.com 11/21/2013
Koji Uehara returned to Japan today. He rested for about two weeks after the end of the season before resuming workouts about a week ago.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/21/2013
MLB Japan held an event at Ishinomaki General Sports Park today. Hisashi Iwakuma was a special guest.
Source: press release
The NPB held an executive committee meeting in Tokyo on Monday and decided that they will contact the MLB with hopes to resume talks on the new posting system agreement.
During the meeting, the person in charge of negotiations with the MLB provided the committee with an explanation of what happened over the course of the last few weeks. The NPB is interested in resuming discussions with the MLB. As they understand it, the MLB is working on a new proposal that could take several weeks to create.
The MLB and NPB were close to finalizing a new posting agreement when the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA) made it know that they were unhappy with the new rules because it offered little to both the players and teams. After discussions between the respective groups in Japan took place, the players association halfheartedly accepted the terms over a limited period of two years. Shortly thereafter, the MLB announced they were taking the deal off the table because the NPB was taking too long to make a decision and the "shifting winds" (dissent among small-market teams) were growing too strong.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/18/2013
According to this tweet by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Los Angeles Dodgers are not interested in Hiroki Kuroda:
#Dodgers prefer starting pitcher on 1- or 2-year deal, sources say. Kuroda not under consideration. Team does not want to lose draft pick.
Source: Tweet 11/15/2013
Kensuke Tanaka will play winter ball in Venezuela for two to three weeks. He is set to arrive at Margarita Island on the 18th.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/16/2013
The AL MVP went to Miguel Cabrera (385 points). Hisashi Iwakuma (two points), Koji Uehara (two points), and Yu Darvish (one point) managed to get some votes.
Source: MLB 11/14/2013
From Newsday's David Lennon:
... "Right now, we have to have some further discussion with [Japanese officials] before they're able to accept," Manfred said. "We warned them. We told them if this sat too long, there could be shifting winds out there. Suffice to say, there are shifting winds."
... Now, all bets are off, as the posting system, which expired this year, could wind up dramatically different, and those changes may not be agreed upon in time to allow Tanaka to jump to the majors this winter.
Under Japanese rules, a player needs nine years of service time to become an international free agent, as opposed to only six in the U.S. Once a Japanese player accrues the time, there is no need to be posted, which deprives a Japanese team of any financial compensation for his departure.
That also means MLB teams don't have to pay a posting fee, which they much prefer. Based on what Manfred said Thursday, MLB will likely seek an amended proposal that is even more club-friendly.
Source: Newsday 11/14/2013
From the Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough:
... "I think the concerns with the system is that it was a blind bidding process that led to inflated numbers," Manfred said. "And those inflated numbers make that market unavailable to a broad cross-section of our teams."
Thus, the delay allowed doubt among the owners to fester. Manfred hinted free agency for Japanese players could be an alternative. But no answers will arrive until further negotiations.
Source: Star-Ledger 11/14/2013
From MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom:
... "What I would tell you is that we made a proposal to the Japanese," Manfred said at the end of the year's final quarterly Owners Meetings. "When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they have not been able to do that."
MLB waited several weeks for approval of its proposal by Japanese baseball officials, but sentiment among a growing number of Major League owners has turned to ending the posting system entirely.
... The Japanese clubs are scheduled to vote on the proposal on Monday, but Manfred said, "We got an e-mail from the Japanese this morning saying they're not in a position to give us a formal response."
Manfred was asked if he's concerned about any time constraints.
"To be honest with you, I'm not," he said. "It isn't acceptable from our perspective. The Japanese players association has an agreement with NPB. At a certain point in time, their players become available via free agency. If that's the way we get Japanese professionals, I think the 30 Major League clubs are prepared to live with that result. So I don't feel a lot of pressure in terms of the time."
Source: MLB.com 11/14/2013
Incidentally, the JPBPA did ask the NPB about shortening the time it takes for players to become free agents. The issue will likely be discussed during a meeting before the end of the year.
In other news...
The Houston Astros are apparently looking into Shunsuke Watanabe, or have at least checked into his scouting report.
Source: Daily Sports 11/15/2013
The 2013 Cy Young Award went to the Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer (203 points). Yu Darvish finished in second (93 points), Hisashi Iwakuma third (73 points), and Koji Uehara seventh (10 points).
Source: MLB.com 11/13/2013
Hideki Matsui has been invited by the NY Yankees to be a special instructor during spring training next year. Matsui was invited this spring as well, but declined because his wife was due to deliver.
Source: Daily Sports 11/14/2013