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Posting system in place, but is Tanaka in play?

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This afternoon, Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball officially announced changes to the Japanese posting system. The new system is exactly as expected, with a $20 million cap on the posting fee paid by Major League teams to acquire the negotiating rights. Any team that ties for the highest posting fee will be allowed to negotiate with the player.

Of course, none of this answers the real question of whether Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. Finalizing this agreement was really a technicality at this point. The Rakuten Golden Eagles still have to decide whether they’re going to accept much less than they expected by letting Tanaka head to the U.S.

The offseason will take a significant twist if Tanaka isn’t posted.

Here are the rules of the new posting system as announced by Major League Baseball.

• 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.

Associated Press photo