The great baseball swindle: the new posting system

Now that it seems to be settled here’s my take on the new posting system agreement between NPB and MLB.

I know I’m a bit late to the party as both Patrick of NPB Tracker and Edwin of Kokoyakyu (who has an interesting take on what the new system might mean for future prospects in Japan) have already put things into perspective and shared their thoughts. To me, the whole thing is one huge rip off for the Japanese leagues. A limit to the posting fee will hurt NPB teams. Only them, Nobody else. The American clubs can now happily set aside those $20m and don’t need to worry about how much they might end up spending on a player who will come across the Pacific. Well, alright, yes, in the end they will have to worry about the money they want to commit to his contract, but they won’t have the unknown intangible of the posting fee money anymore.

I’ve said it quite a few times now, just think about the English Premier League telling the rest of Europe that they will only pay the maximum of €20m for any player on the market. Small league clubs all across the world would go on a rampage. The smaller leagues in smaller countries all over Europe make a living off developing talent and then sellng it to the bigger leagues. That’s a barbaric system, but it works somehow. To the effect that in international competition there’s almost no surprise winner anymore. Now, for NPB the old system meant that the clubs could develop good or even great players who would stir attention across the ocean. If the clubs decided to post the player they could expect a decent amount of money for one of their cornerstone players which they could invest in their facilities (as Seibu did with the Matsuzaka money) or elsewhere.

But, only to protect MLB clubs from themselves there’s this $20m limit now. Let’s be honest here: has anyone pointed a gun to the Rangers’ head and told them to bid $52m for Darvish? Were the Red Sox threatened to bid $51m for Matsuzaka? I guess nobody told the Yankees to bid over $20+m for Kei Igawa. You want to play by the market’s rules you have to pay the market price. Masahiro Tanaka may not be worth a posting fee of $50m, but if someone is willing to pay it, so be it.

If you want to change something, why not start with this strange secret bidding thing? Just let the MLB clubs negotiate directly with the Japanese club. It’s how it works in European football. It’s a dirty business, but, hey, that’s what it is.

In my mind NPB sold itself at a way too low price. Sure, the player can choose where he wants to go, but the league will lose talent at a far quicker pace which in return won’t be good for attendance numbers in Japan.

As much as I’d like to see how Tanaka will do in the majors, I’m rooting for Rakuten to take a firm stand and keep him in Japan for at least one more year. For NPB’s sake, but also for the Tohoku region which has been through so much grief and pain and which deserves to watch him play as long as they can.


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