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Masahiro Tanaka's future with MLB in 2014 remains in doubt.
MLB has been in negotiations with Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball about a posting system for free agents, with the two leagues reportedly close to coming to an agreement on Wednesday, as detailed by Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. The major sticking point of the new deal is that Japanese teams can receive a maximum of $20 million from MLB clubs during the bidding process.
After going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA this past season, the 25-year-old Tanaka was expected to demand a bid higher than the $51.7 million posted by the Texas Rangers for Yu Darvish in 2011. As such, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana might not even make Tanaka available this offseason since he will become a devalued asset.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times relayed comments made by Tachibana to Japanese publication Sponichi, with the team president saying, "We have an obligation to explain to our stakeholders whether it's fair. There’s a possibility we won’t take the next step."
Patrick Newman of NPBTracker.com reported that Rakuten will discuss the posting fee process with Tanaka by Tuesday, and that "asking him to stick around will be the priority." No coincidence, the upcoming discussion in Japan will take place as the winter meetings proceed in Florida.
If Tanaka is available, he figures to have many suitors, especially with a $20 million bidding cap. Once Tanaka's situation is settled, expect the rest of the pitching market to follow suit with other top arms like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza still available.