tanaka

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.”

He continues:

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.

Comments (63)

  1. I’m not so sure this is a negative for the Jays, but it’s not necessarily a positive like it is for the Mariners either. This means the Jays don’t have to win the posting outright (say the Yankees and somebody else want to pay ridiculous posting fees), but still have a chance to get Tanaka if some Japanese player who had a great year being a fan favourite in Toronto convinces Tanaka to play here. But I mean, where would they ever find somebody like that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    • also a HUGE asian community here as well compared to some cities in the US which may be a factor

    • Kawasaki wont be on the team next year, most likely. He will be in Buffalo.

      Also, not all Japanese players know each other. And there are many in the league, with multiple teams having Japanese players, more prominent than Kawasaki. For example, the Yankees got Ichiro, and likely will retain Kuroda as well.

      And really, you are gonna make a major decision in your life, and likely commit to a place for 5+ years, based on the fact they currently have a player from the same country on the roster?

      I would consider travel time back to Japan, money (including taxes), and even factors such as climate playing a larger role than a team having a Japanese player on it.

    • If the Yankees want him, they’ll get him. Historic franchise, deepest pockets, significant Asian population in NYC, a city that is the symbol of America, previous success in embracing Japanese players, etc. If there is a situation with more than one bid, the Yankees will be one of the top bids (likely THE top bid). and they’ll seduce him with the American dream. Jeter will probably personally show up at his luxurious hotel room with two models on his arm and say “this one is a gift to you”. Jays stand no chance if it comes down to a couple, and very little chance if it’s just the highest bidder. I’ll still hang off every twist and turn of the saga, but I already know how it’s going to end.

      • Hideki Irabu says ‘chi ling won chow!!! as for the new york binotchios….you underestimate the power of a Buck Martinez blow job!! he is the intergalactic bukacke gobbler of ALL FUCKIN TIME!!! DRAFT SMART JAYS!!!

    • There are approximately 12,000 Japanese in Toronto. Here is a list cities in the states by Japanese population:
      http://www.statjump.com/lists/japanese-population-dp1c65tc.html

      If moving to a city with a large japanese population is a large factor in his decision making (which certainly is not a given) then Toronto is really only behind NY, Seattle, and the Californian teams.

      • No, there’s no real Japanese ethnic presence in Toronto. It’s not like LA which has a real Little Tokyo, or Seattle with its International District.

  2. I still have never really seen any evidence that baseball players go to one city over another for anything but money, with the exception of guys who take a discount to stay with the same team.

    I know narratively it makes sense, and if players are not offered the opportunity to make more money in Toronto, all things being equal, they would probably rather not play here. But this only applies to players executing no trade clauses.

    I’m as willing to be proved wrong on this as I am unwilling to do any real research beyond my own anecdotal examples, but I think it’s pretty clear that CC Sabathia and Mark Texeira went to the Yankees for the money, not for the storied history or the pajama patterned uniforms. Zach Greinke never wanted to go to a big city until he realized how much cash that was worth. Hell, Nick Swisher went to Cleveland, and if that stadium was half full ownership would throw a party. Even the classic fallback, that Cliff Lee took less money to go to Philly, didn’t really turn out to be true once you crunch the numbers.

    So no, the Jays will not be able to lure free agents without offering them more money. My question is, can anyone?

    • What about Beltran? Didn’t he refuse more money from Toronto.
      That being the case, he’s the only one I can think of off hand. Though there could be more we don’t know about.

      • But Beltran had already made $135M in his career, and the Jays were offering about $15M more with an extra year I think than Stl. So he took $160M and a chance at a WS with St Louis rather than $175M. I think the money helps for the first big contract, not for the veteran

  3. what a stupid posting system. if he is forced to negotiate with only one team won’t that kill his market value?

  4. Not sure really what this would mean, but I do find it interesting.
    Based on all reports from the time, though, weren’t the Jays second in the Darvish bid? Meaning, wouldn’t they have had a chance to sign Darvish if this system were in place back then?
    I find it weird the Japanese teams would agree to this though. They’re looking at potentially losing millions if a player signs with, say, the third highest bidder. It also makes it more appealing for a player in Japan to leave. I’m not 100 per cent on how it works but a player who knows he’ll have three options as opposed to one seems more likely to leave.
    Just doesn’t make sense for Japanese teams all around.

    • Under the current system, the Japanese team can reject the bid if they don’t find it acceptable. I’d guess that would remain in place to protect them if the second bid is a low-ball.

  5. I don’t see this as a bad development for the Jays… I mean the only thing that ever prevented the Jays from winning any of these postings is their own refusal to put out the initial money required (the biggest posting bid). Sure in a fantasy world where Rogers is willing to spend so much on payroll that it fullfills our wildest line-up fantasies it’s theorhetically a negative… but this isn’t a fantasy world. AA will only get approval to bid so much and thus far “so much” has never been enough. Will “so much” be amoungst the top 2 or 3 (or whatever it’s set at) who knows… maybe. BUt if it’s not then we’re no worse off then where we were and if it is at least we’re in the conversation and not on hte outside looking in.

    If anything I think this improves the Jays odds

    • Just because they’ve supposedly never done it before (AJ Burnett might disagree) doesn’t mean they won’t ever do it, though. Had the club taken on the kind of salary it did in the Miami deal prior to that? No. This year will be as opportune a time as any for them to do something drastic to maintain their brand strength.

      • @Stoeten.

        I can’t see AA taking that much of a risk with a Japanese pitcher who has not thrown a pitch in the MLB.

        Wouldn’t Tanaka cost more than Darvish?

        I would have been very happy with Darvish two years ago. In retrospect, he’s better value than any of our current rotation.

      • I agree. But with a new CEO coming in and starting in January that might affect what happens in November and December. Not that the CEO personally will have anything to do with how much money the Jays are given beyond initialling something. But it may be that the guys who do deal with that will want to wait a little while before handing AA the keys to the strongbox to make sure that they don’t put themselves in bad with the new guy. The timing (once again) may be problematic.

        For myself, whether they have the money or not, I don’t see this team improving much until the happy day when they can put grass in the RC. A talented free-agent position player who can get $$$$$$ anywhere is unlikely to want to play 50% of his games on the turf. So we will be dependent on the farm and trades to improve the team. This doesn’t apply as much to pitchers however. Maybe we catch a bit of a break there. If Rogers ups the ante.

    • Yeah, like you said “the only thing that ever prevented the Jays from winning any of these postings is their own refusal to put out the initial money required.”

      Except now, they still have to outbid almost everybody, and then the player gets told “The highest bids are the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Toronto Blue Jays. Who would you like to negotiate with?” What do you think 99% of players will do?

      This pretty much means the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and most west coast teams get play “Pick or pass” with any Japanese free agent now. The only ones that will make it down the pecking order to the Jays will be the ones we wouldn’t want.

      • Here’s what solves that problem: build a contending team. “Glamour” teams aside, being able to pony up similar contract $$ figures and say “Look at us, we’re a contending team” would be a big selling point, IMO.

  6. If he can choose one of the top three bidders, maybe the team with the lowest winning bid can offer more of the “saved’ money not going to the Japanese to the actual player. May bring the bidding down and give us a chance if he wants the biggest personal payday for himself.

    • That’s how I see it too. This could be beneficial to us – especially with the Yankees luxury tax issues.

    • Exactly what I thought.

      In a world where the Rangers bid $52 million or so for Yu Darvish, and the Jays post what might have been the 2nd or 3rd highest bid at $20 million, the Jays can then offer Darvish over $20 million more than the Rangers, and still come out offering less money overall.

  7. I’ll pass on him and Cano.

    Both will be +40M just for next year.

    For that money I think we can keep JJ, upgrade 2B and Catcher and land one more serviceable starter.

    • my favorite type of comment regarding FAs

      like grocery shopping eh? pick and choose what you want

      • JJ already said more or less he would be happy to come back. You could upgrade C and 2B using a off-the-shelf parts from Radio Shack. And to that I added “a serviceable pitcher”. Like how we did with Happ easily last year. Except maybe we can do a wee better than him.

        JJ you could get for 10M. C and 2B can be improved for 15M… easily. Leaving 15M to get “a serviceable” pitcher.

        Fuck it’s not that hard.

        • I like that too. Whoever the addition is, hopefully he is a serviceable no.3. Then the competition is for the last 2 spots is between Morrow JJ Hutch Drabek Rogers Redmond and Happ. There’s definitely some trade potential in that list.

  8. good thing there’s a long track record of #s in japan translating PERFECTLY to success in the MLB, amirite?

    also, lol at people suggesting he can be friends with kawasaki. didn’t you guys see that documentary with tom sellick on this exact topic? what he needs is to fall in love with a north american woman, which unbeknownst to him is actually gibby’s daughter! she will then teach him the ways of our people, and also he will need to do additional training to win the approval of gibby both on the field of play, AND the field of love.

  9. No chance…not in a million years. Until the Jays start winning..start being a perennial playoff team…start being a team that people sit up and take notice of, instead of being that team that always finished behind the Yankees and the Massholes…no big-name free agent or international star is ever going to say OK to playing here.
    I’m not crapping on the team…but it is what it is. Unless the Jays and Rogers lose their collective minds and open up the vault to the point of not giving a shit about any luxury tax – which is never going to happen – that’s the only way you’re going to get those kind of players to take the Jays seriously.
    To quote the late great Al Davis….just win, baby.

    • point of clarification in my rant….no big name free agent will have the Jays as the first thing that pops into their mind when thinking of “where do I want to go” – unless the aforementioned bank vault dropping on their heads stuns them into compliance.

  10. First off, do the jays really want tanaka and believe in him as a frontline rotation type? I certainly have reservations about his inability to miss bats in japan. He will be very expensive and im not sure its worth it for a mid rotation starter. Secondly, i dont think its that bad for the jays if the player is selecting from 2 or 3 teams. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Could the jays beat out ny or la? No, but im sure tanaka would find it a lot more appealing than many other us cities.

  11. Slowest part of the year ?

    • Yeah. It’s ‘how many starters can dance on the head of a pin’ time. Nothing to see here until after the Series ends I think.

      Oh, and my bet is that Tanaka will go where he can make the most money. If the Jays outbid everyone else, he’ll come here. I hope they don’t. For every Darvish there’s maybe 3 Matzusakas.

      • It has to have occurred to AA that that’s the case. If I were him I’d steer clear of the posting system completely. It’s got disaster written all over it.

  12. A much fairer system for Japanese players so overall a good thing no matter which teams it helps or hinders

  13. A little confused with the proposed system.

    Say the top 3 bids are….
    Yankees 40M
    Mariners 35M
    Cubs 30M

    Tanaka gets to negotiate with those 3 teams. If all 3 teams offer 35M to him, does it cost NYY the most and CHC the least? Doesn’t that mean the Yanks have a disadvantage from being the high bidder?

    I suppose this would all be explained.

    • I think the plan is that the player would then get to choose one of the three teams to negotiate with, not all three.

      The only disadvantage to being the high bidder is that the MLB team will owe the Japanese club a higher posting fee than the other bidders would have, if chosen.

      There could potentially be other disadvantages, though they’re not 100% certain. For example, as someone stated above, the teams that placed lower bids might be able to convince the Japanese player that they can offer more money because they paid less to the Japanese club.

  14. I’d rather buy Cubans.

  15. Hey Andrew, In the past teams like Boston, Dodgers or New York could win the posting by offering an outlandish amount. Then with sole negotiating rights offer the player a lower salary. The Rangers paid 52 million lump sum for the rights to Darvish but then only gave him 10 million annually, he took it because he was over a barrel. Posting fees don`t count against the luxury tax but the salary does.

    Yanks, Boston and other teams who are near the luxury tax now would be forced to offer more competitive salaries and could get priced out. If the Yanks resign Cano then I can`t see how they would be able to outbid 1 or 2 other teams that get picked for negotiations.

    If posting on Tanaka is 30-50 million it`s not a big deal for the big markets to open their wallets but if then if a team like Toronto were to up the ante in the negotiation portion they could win the fight because the Yanks are getting crushed with luxury tax. They will pay 30 million for 2013(50% tax on salary overage). Dodgers will only pay 10 million this year `(17.5% on overage) because it`s a `first offense, if they go over again this year they will be in the same 50% tax bracket as the yanks

    It`s not a hard Salary cap but giving away money seems to be enough of a deterrent that a smaller market team could win a negotiation with a good posted player in my mind.

    • @Smasher.

      Won’t the Yankees get salary relief if Alex Rodriguez is suspended throughout 2014?

      They could use the money for Tanaka.

      I just don’t think AA would risk 50-100 million on a Japanese pitcher who has no MLB experience.

  16. Gotta say it’s hilarious that the NFL is playing a Monday Night Football game in St. Louis against the World Series.

    • Probably gonna get more viewers than the WS too. Its not like the NFL knew when they made their schedule that the WS would be on that Monday featuring a team from ST Louis.

  17. What a fuckin year.
    Farrell’s fuckin Sox 1 game away.
    Fuckin apropos.
    Just fuckin perfect.
    So much for having a winning team on paper.

    • I really don’t give a shit about Farrell
      If it was a Player who said that sure

  18. Interesting analysis of Shi Davidi’s book on the 2013 season. Jays were close to getting Annibal Sanchez.

    http://www.bluejaysmessageboard.com/threads/1596-Shi-Davidi-John-Lott-Great-Expectations-The-Lost-Season/page2

  19. Well I’m pretty much resigned to Boston winning at this point. I’m just hoping it goes 7 and it’s fun baseball.

  20. This kinda sucks, but then again, it could help abate the frothing we did 2 years ago, so that is something right?

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  22. I know it’s not true, but doesn’t it feel like a lot of these changes seem to happen right when it might screw over the Jays directly?

    AA games the draft system and goes over slot on just about everyone; draft rules and slot rules change and he can’t do it anymore.

    AA games the B-level free agent pool by signing guys with a shot at becoming B-FAs, netting him extra draft picks. MLB changes this system and makes it so you have to offer a guy $14million to get a draft pick in return.

    The rules on international free agency change just as AA starts loading up on these free agents.

    Jays need a front-line starter and a Japanese guy is about to be posted (with AA probably still thinking about how he should have gone harder after Darvish) and a new posting system is potentially being implemented that might derail THAT plan.

    Like… fuck.

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