According to David Lennon of Newsday, significant changes to the posting system used to bring players over from Japan "seem to be imminent and could take effect as soon as this November." The two sides have been discussing changes to the system for some time.
The current system is a essentially a silent auction. Teams submit blind bids and the high-bidder wins a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the player. The contract and posting fee are separate items -- one goes to the player and the other goes to the player's former team.
Here's more on the potential changes from Lennon:
But according to sources, one of the proposals for a new system would have as many as three teams chosen among the top bidders, with the Japanese player then allowed to choose the club he'd prefer to play for and negotiate with.
As one major-league official said, the goal for clubs is to win the bid by a dollar, not $10 million. But if the process does open up to more bidding teams, as expected, it could be an advantage to teams in locations that traditionally have been more attractive to Japanese players, such as New York, Boston and the West Coast clubs, from Los Angeles to Seattle.
"We've been in discussions with NPB for some time now and we continue to work through the different scenarios and resolutions," said Kim Ng, MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations. MLB refused to comment on details of the changes.
The current posting agreement, which has been in place since 1998, is renewable each year. The system is in place (in part) to give Japanese clubs protection so their top players don't leave for MLB without some sort of compensation. Players in Japan must wait nine years before qualifying for international free agency.
Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who recently made history by winning his 25th consecutive start, is expected to be posted this winter according to our own Danny Knobler. The 24-year-old is the best pitcher in Japan and figures to be a case study for the new system if it is indeed implemented in the next few weeks.
Both Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka fetched posting fees north of $50 million, though both winning bids blew everyone else out of the water. In addition to giving the player some input into his future team, the new system could also bring posting fees down and deter teams from making token bids if they don't have sincere interest in the player.