Will The Rakuten Eagles Post Masahiro Tanaka?

With the new pending Japanese posting system putting a $20 million cap on posting fees, the question around baseball is whether the Rakuten Eagles will still post their ace, 25-year-old righthander Masahiro Tanaka.

The Eagles were unhappy with the new agreement, as they were expecting the posting fee for Tanaka to exceed the $51.7 million the Rangers paid the Nippon Ham Fighters for Yu Darvish two years ago.

Rakuten Eagles president Yozo Tachibana spoke with the Japanese media, including Nikkan Sports and Jiji Press. The highlights of Tachibana’s comments include:

• If Tanaka wants to go to MLB, they would like to let him leave
• It is questionable whether the $20 million posting fee cap is a fair price for his value
• The Eagles had valued Tanaka’s posting price beyond $20 million
• Convincing Tanaka to stay is a high priority

So in the end, while the Eagles are obviously upset that they won’t be making as much money off Tanaka as they were anticipating, if Tanaka wants to make the jump to MLB this season, it’s expected that they will let him go.

A $20 million posting fee is still a substantial amount of money for the Eagles, who control Tanaka’s rights for two more seasons. If they choose not to post him this winter, Tanaka would be only one year away from true free agency, at which point Tanaka might prefer to not be posted and wait another year to sign without any restrictions, leaving the Eagles without any compensation. As one MLB team official put it, whether the Eagles were counting on $60 million or $20 million for Tanaka, in the end, it’s likely $20 million or nothing.