Do you know that the team that wins the Tanaka lottery, if his current team lets him leave, will do so WITHOUT losing a draft choice.
That’s right, if any of the MLB teams wooes Tanaka away from the Ratuken Eagles, they can sign Tanaka and NOT lose a draft choice. After Texas signed Darvish in January of 2012 they still had not only one but two first round picks in the spring 2013 draft.
Also, since the new agreement is in place that stipulates that the max posting fee that can be offered is $20 million everyone assumed that would level the playing field and all MLB teams would then be able to compete for the talent coming out of Japan.
It hardly works that way. The large market teams like the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers were hardly going to let Cleveland, Kansas City and other smaller market teams come in and woo away the talent.
So how you ask is the larger teams still at an advantage? It’s like this now, if every team in MLB post the required $20 million max posting fee then it comes down to the team that submits the highest player contract to the player will be the outright winner of his services. THIS is where the smaller market teams fail.
So if you are wondering why your favorite team is never in the mix for the talent coming from Nippon, this is why. Even IF Atlanta posted the $20 for Tanaka, they would never be able to outbid the Yankees, Dodgers or Angels for his services. That is why most of the 30 MLB teams do not even bother to post for those players. It is not because they feel they have a pat hand on their current team, they just know their efforts would be futile and they would never be able to match the large clubs in salary negotiations for the players.
And it is just not the Japan talent pool. How about Cuba? While some teams do draft Cuban players, i.e. Atlanta drafted Escobar, others come to MLB via the defect, get green card, sign with some team, i.e. Puig.
All in all this is not fair, but the greatest bitch I have with all of this is that the team that gets these guys like Suzuki,Matsuzaka, Darvish and now Tanaka is that they DO NOT give up a draft pick when they sign them.
Typically, if say Atlanta signs in the offseason a “Type A” Free Agent like Justin Upton they consequently lose a first round draft choice the following spring. However, if one of their own eligible Type A free agents signs with another team then they regain their 1st round pick.
It can all be convoluted at times and muddier than swamp water to see through but bottom line is this; why do teams that pick up all the “undrafted” talent from overseas not get penalized when they are obviously tilting the level playing field?
In June of 2012 the Dodgers get to sign Puig when other clubs did not have a shot at him and in the spring draft they still got their 1st round pick.
Until MLB post better control over how these undrafted players enter the league this will continue and you can look for teams that are already out in the cold to remain there.
I enjoy seeing all the world has to offer in the best baseball league in the world, however, would it not be a breath of fresh air to see someone like Tanaka pitching for Pittsburgh or Houston?
We all know it is not going to happen.
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