Rakuten Golden Eagles May Not Post Masahiro Tanaka

So receiving $20 million to post Masahiro Tanaka is a snag?

Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana walks through the lobby during the MLB Winter Meetings. (David Manning-USA TODAY Sports)

A report from the New York Times indicates that the Rakuten Golden Eagles may not post pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The report was filed by Ken Bilson. Despite Tanaka’s desire to head to MLB and show his wares, his NPB club is exhibiting extreme hesitancy to post their star pitcher.

At issue: the $20MM posting fee. Well, more than likely it’s the posting fee. Well, the vast majority of it is. There are other factors in play here that Bilson notes within his article.

By keeping Tanaka for at least another year, the Eagles would forgo a $20 million compensatory posting fee from the major league team that ultimately signed him. But they would enhance their chances at repeating as champions in Japan, and they would avoid millions of dollars in lost ticket, food and merchandise sales.

Bilson adds that Rakuten may be willing to triple Tanaka’s yearly salary of $4MM to keep him as a member of their club. This would make Tanaka the highest paid Japanese pitcher in history. You can understand why the team would be more inclined to hold on to their meal ticket.

But would holding Tanaka for one more season – maybe even for two years – make sense economically for Rakuten? You’re leaving $20MM on the table and considering paying Tanaka upwards of $12MM. Is he worth that much to your club? Plus, Tanaka can leave after the 2015 season. Getting $20MM now might not be that bad.

There’s no guarantee that Tanaka would even sign, but those chances are leaning toward being extremely small. No deal means that Rakuten wouldn’t see any of the posting fee anyway.

That said, the bigger risk might be that you stand to create a negative image as an owner and a club. On down the road, if you don’t post Tanaka, see how many players are apt to sign with your club in the future.

Various reports have Tanaka receiving a deal as much as five years and $100MM. Yu Davish didn’t receive that big of a contract (six years, $56MM), but Darvish’s NPB club received a hefty “payday” in regards to the posting fee ($51,703,411 per Cot’s). Rakuten will not reap those “benefits”. In the end, the amount of cash a team spends on acquiring Tanaka’s services may be no less than in the past. The money has the possibility of being even greater.

With the posting fee now a mere formality, the bulk of the dollars will be coming in negotiating – if that should be the case – with the player on a contract.

And lest we forget, Rakuten also lost Casey McGehee. And before you think that’s not a big deal, McGehee had an excellent season for Rakuten (.292/.376/.515, 28 HR, 93 RBI in 590 PA).

Okay. So it’s not as big a deal as losing Tanaka would be.

Topics: Masahiro Tanaka, Rakuten Golden Eagles

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