Building a better posting system

Yankees made bid for Darvish, high bidder could be announced tonight
Nakajima and the sign-and-trade possibility

As the afternoon hours tick away in Japan, Major League Baseball and its fans are eagerly awaiting word of the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. The bidding ended at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and we know the Yankees posted a bid. Some reports say the Yanks’ bid isn’t very substantial, and Jon Heyman called it a “modest bid.”

Right now, all we know is basically nothing. No one has yet leaked the winning figure or the winning team. We don’t know what the Yanks submitted. Maybe they went low in the hopes of preempting a skittish field. Maybe, after four years of scouting Darvish, they weren’t willing to bid high and then follow up that bid with an equally lucrative deal for an unproven commodity. Of course, the recent failures of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa could be fresh in their minds, but those are inexact comparisons at best.

As we wait out the results, though, I pondered the posting system earlier today. Spurred on by an article in The Times, I realized just how ludicrous a system this is. A team in Japan posts a player, and then Major League Baseball clubs submit a blind bid for the exclusive right to negotiate a deal. If the negotiations fail, that player simply returns to Japan, and the team gets its money back. There’s no incentive to give the player a fair market deal, and the team winds up spending its assets on the posting fee rather than the player.

The agents certainly don’t like the system as they suffer tremendously. “The system has already failed,” Scott Boras said to The Times, “and that type of thing is only going to increase. I lived through it with Matsuzaka. As it stands, this system doesn’t benefit anyone.”

So what might happen? In the piece, David Waldstein noted that changes may be coming to the posting system. He writes:

The posting system was introduced after the experiences of Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano, who escaped their Japanese teams via loopholes. Then in 1997, the Chiba Lotte Marines, who had a working agreement with the San Diego Padres, agreed to let them sign Hideki Irabu, who refused to play for San Diego and forced a trade to the Yankees. “It wasn’t fun,” recalled Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers, who was the Padres’ general manager at the time. “I think that episode annoyed a lot of people, and that’s why we have the system we have now, as flawed as it might be.”

But it might change within a couple of years. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a committee will be established to discuss a worldwide draft, including changes to the current system along with Nippon Professional Baseball.

Boras suggested a sliding scale whereby Japanese players can negotiate with any team and their Japanese teams would receive a percentage of the contract. For instance, if a player leaves after one year, the Japanese team would get 80 percent of the contract, 50 percent after five years and 20 percent with just one year remaining before free agency. “A lot of Japanese players aren’t successful here because they aren’t comfortable in their situation,” Boras said. “If they could choose where they want to play, their success rate would definitely increase.”

Who knows if Boras, as he often does, is just selling a load of hooey. Maybe Japanese players aren’t successful because they are siphoned off to one team and have to negotiate with little leverage. Maybe they’re not successful because they just can’t beat Major League competition. Either way, the posting system is a bit of a strange beast, more akin to the amateur draft than anything else. Veteran players aren’t given the option to pick their next team. How peculiar.

For now, though, we’ll wait it out for a little while longer. At some point soon, Yu Darvish’s potential future employer will be announced. I’m not too optimistic it will be the Yankees, but as a famed broadcaster likes to say, sometimes, you just can’t predict baseball.

Yankees made bid for Darvish, high bidder could be announced tonight
Nakajima and the sign-and-trade possibility
  • Rigoleto

    “Now Yu see it, now Yu don’t!” – Interleague HR 2012

  • RkyMtnYank

    I have never been a fan of the posting system and have always thought the Yanks should bid just $1 for Yu as a FU, but that went out the window with Nakajima. :)
    That said, my main question about the system is, does the posting team actually have to accept the highest bid? We assume they will, but, if Yu has no intention of signing with a team like the Orioles if they post the highest bid, can they not accept a lower bid for where they think he will want to play for just to complete the deal?

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      I guess they could…but the thing is, the Japanese team doesn’t know who the highest bidder is until they accept or decline the bid. They really wouldn’t have a reason to accept a lower one.

      • RkyMtnYank

        Oh, I thought they knew exactly what all of the bids were. So only the bid amount is disclosed by MLB? I feel very comfortable now knowing MLB is in charge of this whole thing, no wonder it’s fucked up!

  • Gonzo

    I thought about this same structure a while ago, I swear. The Dice-K fee didn’t help matters though.

  • KeithK

    I love reading complaints from agents about the posting system. Og course, it doesn’t benefit the agents. It’s not supposed to. It’s meant to put money in the pockets of the Japanese teams who will be losing their best talent to MLB. The blind auction serves to maximize the posting fee. It doesn’t work as well as a it would if it weren’t blind, but MLB can’t do that for competitive balance reasons. Is there incentive to give the Japanese player a market deal? Maybe not, but again that’s not the point. If no agreement is reached the Japanese team doesn’t get the posting fee but they do get to keep their talent, which is probably a better outcome.

  • Mister Delaware


    • RkyMtnYank

      It’s because they would have to learn to hit their Caps Lock button and use punctuation.

    • Ray Fuego

      LOUD NOISES!!!11!!!!

    • whozat

      They do mostly want to play in MLB. But teams in Japan own their rights for the first several years of their careers (just like happens to MLB players), and have no reason to give up their most talented players for free. Hence…posting.

      • JAG

        A big part of this is also the fact that MLB and NPB have an agreement that the MLB teams will not draft or sign Japanese amateurs as international free agents or draftees. This forces Japanese amateurs to sign with Japanese teams if they wish to play baseball professionally, funnelling them into the NPB and eventually the posting system or free agency.

    • Jimmy

      Inside Voices!

  • Robert

    I don’t understand the Igawa, Darvish comparisons. Igawa’s out pitch was a change up over the plate,and throw around 88.Darvish has a lower walk rate,and three different out pitches. By the way Dice k was not that bad ,he did help Boston win a WS in 2007.

    • Billion$Bullpen

      Best thing I have seen anybody write on this matter.

  • John Ya Ya

    The problem is that there is no incentive for the Japanese teams to change this system, as it makes them a boatload of cash. As the players are bound by contract to these teams they, and consequently the MLB teams, are at mercy of the Japanese teams. As long as MLB teams are willing to pony up $50 million posting fees for these guys, this crappy system will probably remain, no matter what Scott Boras says.

  • Evan

    I’m just wondering, what if a Japanese player just walked out on his team and came to the United States? The team try to seize the player’s assets in Japan but what legal avenues would they have against an MLB team that signed him? Could they try to get an injunction in a US court?

    • Need Pitching

      MLB wouldn’t allow the player to sign with a MLB team
      the posting system is the result of an agreement between Japan baseball and MLB

      • JAG

        The player in question would also be subject to whatever laws and rules are in place for breach of contract in Japan (unless he somehow tries to play for both teams at once).

  • nsalem

    “Maybe Japanese players aren’t successful because they are siphoned off to one team and have to negotiate with little leverage.”

    Maybe our expectations are way way too high and they are not worth the money as they are unproven players on our higher level. About 50 or so have come over and Japan has produced a first round HOF in Suzuki who has more hits in a season than anyone in the history of this game. We have a borderline AS in Matsui a couple of better than average everyday players such as Fukidome and a couple of competent starting pitchers such as Kuroda and Nomo and some decent relievers like Okijima and Uehara. The Yankees have 3 successful caucasian players in Tex, Gardner and Robertson. I’m sure the percentage of unsuccessful white players who have played for the Yankees experienced some triple A success and have turned into marginal at best Major Leaguer’s is just as high. Even higher are the white players we have signed out of college and high school who never sniffed double A and returned home. Our expectations for these players coming over are much to high if anything is unsuccessful it is the authors and others total lack of ability to properly realize the odds against anybody succeeding on the Major League level.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      it is the authors and others total lack of ability to properly realize the odds against anybody succeeding on the Major League level

      Isn’t that exactly what I say in the sentence directly after the one you quoted? Let’s be honest here.

  • nsalem

    You are correct and I apologize. I stopped reading at that point and that was quite unfair of me. I read so many articles of the “failure of the Japanese player” and the comparisons of Darvish to Irabu and Igewa because they are Japanese I tend to project what is coming next and sometimes I don’t finish the authors thought. This reason is quite weak. I should have known better and should have read all your words before commenting. I have no excuse and again apologize.

    • MattG

      Please report to Gate 4 for your public flogging.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Where are the viewing stands?!?!?!?

  • Damix

    The issue with the sliding scale is that NPB probably wouldn’t agree to it.

    1.) Even if they get 80% of a player’s salary if he leaves with 8 years of control left (is this the years before FA in NPB?) they are losing 8 years worth of merchandise, extra fans and so on. You have to assume the best players (read: fan favorites) are the ones making the jump.

    2.) If my assumption of 8 years till FA is correct, that means that NPB only gets a large % of the players salary if they leave 1 or 2 years into their careers. MLB is likely to offer less salary to this not as established players, giving the NBP a smaller return. As is the players that leave during the later years. If Darvish was a true FA, how much would he get? 6 yrs/100 million max? That gives the NPB team 20 mil according to the proposed sliding scale. I have a feeling the posting fee will be quite a bit more.

    I don’t think there is a very good answer here. The current system is poor, but I don’t think any proposed system makes everyone happy. Either NPB, the MLB or the player gets screwed.

    Sorry if I brought up points already said in the article/comments, I sort of glanced over everything.

  • Dan

    If there ever was a prospect who looks like he’ll translate, it seems to be Darvish but clearly C$ et al know a lot more about baseball than I do so we’ll see. I just hope they’ll not letting the Ghost of Kei Igawa color their opinion. Someone commented one time something like that would be like never signing a white guy who played for the Marlins because Pavano and Burnett were relative bombs.

    My completely based-on-nothing prediction to win rights
    1. Washington
    2. Texas
    3. Seattle (Ichiro’s not getting any younger… imagine that rotation…)

    • Damix

      I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays win the rights.

  • JohnC

    I still say the Rangers or Nationals.

  • matt

    What would happen if a young stud japanes player retires from japanese baseball and moves to the US?

  • matt

    What would happen if a young japanese player retires from japanese baseball and moves to the US? I wonder what the criteria would be for that

    • matt

      Sorry for the double post.. phones acting up

    • Dan

      I could be making this up but I think I remember it being that he either can’t ever go back to the NPB or there’s some sort of “you can’t play for the NPB for ___ number of years” rule so you cant just jump between the 2 when your deal is up. Could be wrong though.

  • JohnC

    There was a rumor that the Jays posted a 60 millon dollar bid. If true, thats outrageous!.

    • matt

      If true, i hope this is a “block” move

      • Benjamin Kabak

        First, nothing about that suggests an informed source with information we should pay attention to. Second, block moves are severely frowned upon by MLB because of the way it impacts their relationship with the NPB.

    • jpm

      Anthopolous’ MO as a GM has been to never, NEVER, leak anything.

  • John

    Personally, I’m kinda hoping we lose out on the Darvish Sweepstakes. I’d much rather see Cashman bring in Kuroda on a 1 year deal, and then take the Darvish money and use it to make a mega offer for Hamels next off season. If Hamels re-signs in Philly, then use the money to go for either Cain or Greinke. I’d much rather see the Yankees spend 100+mil on a proven ace rather than Darvish.

  • matt

    ummm FIRST nothing on the sunk is clear except 4 known teams placed bids.. THAT’S IT so get off your high horse.. all we have, as fans, is to speculate and play the guessing game based on rumors and “insiders” insight. i didn’t say i believed that or thought it were true.. simply “what if” like every other scenario in the offseason

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    The posting system tat NPB has may be flawed. However, you have to look at it from the point of view of the Japanese owners who have a monopoly like ours. They are selling their top star whose departure may mean a drop in attendance and thus loss of money. Thus, the try to get as much as they can from their commodity. As time elapses, I feel less and less confident that we won the bid on Yu Darvish. So to end this, I’ll say here’s looking at yu kid.

  • blee

    man.. I was hoping the Yanks made a strong offer.. but all i hear is modest.. and rumors of high bids from other teams, as well as the winning bid being “sky high” isnt very promising as a yankee fan..

    if it goes to 60+.. that is ridiculous.. lol.. the Nippon Ham Fighter’s payroll in 2009 (couldnt find 2010) was about 24 million.. thats including the 3.something mil that was paid to darvish… so they just got like.. 3 yrs salary from posting darvish.. amazing..

  • Joe

    Can someone explain why the bids are blind in the current posting system?

  • Holy Ghost

    I hope the Mariners win the bidding and then go sign Prince Fielder.

    That would make things very interesting in the AL West