The way Major League Baseball does business with Japan's top professional baseball league may be about to change.
According to Fox Sports analyst Ken Rosenthal's sources, MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball are "very close" on a new posting system.
Rosenthal posted the details of the expected deal on Twitter Thursday morning.
To acquire negotiating rights to an eligible Japanese player, MLB teams will still submit a posting bid, but unlike in the past, the new maximum posting fee will be $20 million per player.
In the event multiple teams post $20 million, the player would then be allowed to choose his destination amongst those teams that submitted maximum bids. Only the team chosen by the player being posted would then be required to pay the fee to his respective NPB club.
If no team posts a maximum bid, the player would go to the highest bidder.
Under the current system, teams submit their top bids in secret with the highest bidder getting an exclusive negotiating window to sign the player.
The deal comes as MLB teams wait to start bidding on the latest Japanese phenom pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka.
The New York Yankees were believed to be the front-runners for Tanaka, since their deep pockets would allow them to submit a high posting bid, while only having Tanaka's salary count towards luxury tax.
However, under the new system that advantage would no longer play in the Yankees favour. Since only the posting fee is luxury tax-exempt. The change levels the playing field, giving players like Tanaka the ability to choose between whichever clubs deem his services worthy of a maximum bid.
MLB expects that once the deal gets completed, Tanaka and others will still be posted. Otherwise, Rosenthal believes, Japanese players might demand earlier free agency.
Japanese players are currently eligible for free agency after nine years of NPB service.
The highest bid ever submitted by an MLB club for a Japanese free agent came in January of 2012 when the Texas Rangers paid a reported $51.7 million for the right to negotiate with pitcher Yu Darvish.
The Rangers and Darvish took almost the full allotted month to reach an agreement, with Darvish settling for a six-year, $60 million contract on the final day of the negotiating window.