Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional baseball have agreed on a new posting fee to bring potential Japanese free agents to North America.
The three-year deal was finalized on Monday and fundamentally changes the way Japanese players are acquired by MLB clubs.
Now, if an NPB Club wishes to make one of its players available to Major League Clubs, they will notify the MLB Commissioner of the player's availability and the release feethat must be paid to the NPB Club in order to secure release. The NPB Club may not set the release fee higher than $20 million and the fee cannot be changed once set by the NPB Club.
The Commissioner's Office will then post the player by notifying all MLB clubs of both the availability of the player and the fee sought by the NPB Club.
Postings must be made between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1.
A 30-day period begins the day after the player is posted, and concluding 30 days later, with any Major League Club willing to pay the release free to negotiate a contract with the posted player.
If a team is able to reach an agreement with the player, the fee will then be paid out to his NPB club in installments.
Should the player fail to reach an agreement with an MLB club, the release fee is not owed and the player may not be posted again until the following November.
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 hear about the potential availability of 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.
Whether or not Tanaka gets posted still remains to be seen as his club - the Rakuten Golden Eagles - has been going back and forth on whether to actually make him available. Tanaka reportedly wants to play in North America, but the change to the system has made posting him less lucrative to his Japanese club.
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.