Who wants to start a week in which John Farrell might with the World Series with another reason why the Blue Jays dropped the ball so badly two winters ago when they didn’t sign Yu Darvish?
No? … Nobody? Well… sorry.
Last month I wrote a post about Masahiro Tanaka, the next Japanese player expected to head to North American shores while making himself, and his team, ass-loads of cash in the process. In the piece I noted this report from David Lennon of Newsday:
Multiple sources told Newsday that significant changes to the current posting system for Japanese players seem to be imminent and could take effect as soon as this November. That would enable the next coveted Japanese ace, Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, to benefit from an expanded — and presumably more player-friendly — process should he follow through on his reported desire to play in the United States next season.
. . .
According to sources, one of the proposals for a new system would have as many as three teams chosen among the top bidders, with the Japanese player then allowed to choose the club he’d prefer to play for and negotiate with.
Lennon’s report seems to be true, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote on Saturday that those sorts of changes appear to be close to happening, and that “the MLB Commissioners Office and Nippon Professional Baseball are closing in on a posting agreement that the sides are optimistic will be in place by Nov. 1.”
There had been speculation the system would undergo radical changes, with perhaps even the teams with the three highest posting bids all gaining the rights to negotiate with the players. I have been told there will be alterations in the process, but still only one team will win the post and have exclusive negotiating rights.
It is possible, as a way to give the player more power to chose his destination, he might get to pick a singular team from, say, the top two or three bidders.
You’d have to think that whether the Jays have any hope of signing Tanaka– if they even want to, which isn’t necessarily a slam dunk, as I outlined in last month’s post– hinges on whether that last possibility comes true. Putting the selection of the winning bid into the hands of the player eliminates one of the crucial advantages the posting system afforded the Jays, which was that they didn’t have to woo anybody to come play on shitty turf that looks like a meth head’s front lawn, in a hitter friendly half-empty stadium for an afterthought of a franchise.
Obviously I love the Jays and this city, and I understand that there are all kinds of reasons someone should want to be here– outrageous booze and housing costs and woefully inadequate cycling infrastructure not withstanding– but that sort of perception isn’t going to be an easy one to shake if the Yankees and their whole insufferable “historic franchise in biggest market that always wins” thing come into play.
And don’t think that they won’t.
Mark Feinsand contemplated the Yanks’ off-season plans in the Daily News last weekend, explaining that “Next to Cano, Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka could be the most important person in the Yankees’ plans this winter.”
“The righthander is expected to be posted this winter, and while that posting fee could soar past the $51.7 million the Rangers paid for the rights to Yu Darvish two years ago, ” he explained, “that cost would not be subject to the luxury tax, a major factor for the Yankees this winter.”
It’s not just about the Yankees, either.
If the posting system stays relatively the same, all the Jays would need is Rogers’ money in order to secure exclusive rights to negotiate (which… didn’t sound quite as laughable in my head before I wrote it down, but is certainly a tall order in and of itself). If it changes the way that Sherman speculates– i.e. with the adoption of what Lennon had called “one of the proposals”– and Tanaka will be allowed some say in which team wins his rights, Scott Weber of Lookout Landing thinks that this will be a boon to a team like the Mariners, as well.
Should that happen, he writes, “there’s going to be a ton of suitors, but the barriers to the Mariners entering that fray are now greatly reduced. It seems highly unlikely that they’d be able to outbid at least one team for Tanaka, but it’s at least somewhat feasible that they could place themselves in the top three. They’d still have some odds against them luring Tanaka to Seattle, but Seattle’s relationship with Japan could certainly be a factor.”
As could, he adds, the fact that “Hisashi Iwakuma and Tanaka were teammates with the Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2007-2011. Iwakuma was already a member of Rakuten’s rotation when Tanaka joined at age 17, and the two stayed together until Iwakuma left for Seattle.”
Not to belabor the point– though, seriously: Darvish, man– but the Jays, of course, have none of these sorts of advantages under the proposed changes. And while I’d have to admit that it’s probably more fair to actually let the player have some kind of say in which organization he chooses to work for– I mean, he’s not just some amateur kid from the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico, amiright?– I… um… I’m just kind of thinking… um… can we maybe not?
Sounds like we’ll find out this week whether or not the changes are actually coming. We probably shouldn’t be so enthused about the Jays’ prospects in this pursuit regardless, but I don’t think that’s going to stop us from hanging off every twist and turn of the saga. And, actually, the fact that there still isn’t total confirmation that the agreement will move away from a straight-up top bid wins process still should give us a little genuine hope. For now.