Rakuten Eagles Post Masahiro Tanaka

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball recently agreed to new terms on a posting system for Japanese players to exit their existing NPB contracts and sign with an MLB team. Under the new system, whichever MLB team signs a posted Japanese player will pay the NPB team what is essentially a $20 million tax. Masahiro Tanaka is the first player to be posted under the new agreement.All MLB teams have 30 days (from Thursday, December 26) to attempt to come to terms with Tanaka, a 25 year old right handed pitcher for the Rakuten Eagles. Tanaka has the option to negotiate and sign with whichever team he wishes – a significant change from the previous posting system, which awarded the player to whichever team had the highest blind-bid. The change is certainly a welcome one from the players’ perspective, as players now have the ability to sign with whichever team they choose, at whatever teams they choose. 

Under the previous system, Texas paid a $51,703,411 posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters and gave Darvish a 6-year $56 million contract, and the Red Sox paid the Seibu Lions a $51,111,111.11 posting fee, ultimately agreeing to a 6-year $52 million contract with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Under the new system, Tanaka is likely to earn a greater average annual value (AAV) due to the posting fee limit of $20 million. 

Tanaka is represented by Excel Sports Management (other clients include Clayton Kershaw and Derek Jeter) and it is expected most MLB teams will be interested in at least taking a look at the Japanese star who posted a 24-0 record, 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. His minuscule career home run rate of .5 home runs per nine innings, combined with a 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings makes for an intriguing fantasy play this upcoming season. Even if he does not have the upside of Yu Darvish, Tanaka will certainly be an impact fantasy player.

Check back with Blind Side Fantasy Advice for fantasy implications and updated rankings upon Tanaka’s signing with a major league club.