ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball is withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason.
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said Japanese officials had not acted quickly enough on MLB's proposal for a new agreement and that a new proposal will be forwarded.
"We warned them, told them if this sat too long, there could be shifting winds out there, and suffice it to say there are shifting winds," Manfred said.
Under the so-called "posting system," agreed to in December 1998 by MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, more than a dozen Japanese players have moved to the majors before the nine years of service time they would have needed to become a free agent in their home country. Under the system, MLB clubs submit bids, and the highest bidder has 30 days to reach an agreement with the player.
Boston obtained pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions before the 2007 season for $51,111,111.11, and agreed to a $52 million, six-year contract. Texas got pitcher Yu Darvish from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters before the 2012 season for $51,703,411 and gave him a $56 million, six-year deal. Darvish finished second this week in AL Cy Young Award voting.
"I think the concerns with the system was it was a blind bidding process that led to inflated numbers," Manfred said, "and that those inflated numbers make that market unavailable to a broad cross-section of our teams."