Munetaka Murakami, the record-setting third baseman for the Yakult Swallows in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, has signed a three-year contract extension and will be posted for MLB teams after the 2025 season, reports the Kyodo News. The new contract is worth roughly $4.4 million per year.
"I'm just grateful to have signed a deal like this," Murakami told the Kyodo News. "I'll need to work even harder ... I think I've produced results that deserve this. I'd be surprised if I got ($4.4 million) yen without doing anything, but I worked hard."
Murakami, 22, is the best hitter in the world not employed by an MLB team. He slashed .318/.458/.711 with 56 home runs this past season,. Murakami also posts elite exit velocities and is regarded as a solid defensive third baseman.
"It would be a huge blow to our club," Swallows president Tsuyoshi Kinugasa told the Kyodo News about losing Murakami in three years. "But he is a treasure in the baseball world. I'm sure baseball fans in Japan want to see him play in the majors."
Last month, Murakami said he wants to play in MLB, "" The three-year term of his new contract is notable. It means Murakami will be posted when he is 25 and no longer subject to MLB's international bonus pools. He will be able to sign a contract of any size at that time. Given the money thrown around this offseason, Murakami might be a $300 million player.
Shohei Ohtani came over under those turns in 2018 -- he received only a $2.315 million bonus -- but he is an exception, not the rule.and they are a hard cap, and they apply to players under the age of 25. Had Murakami been posted this offseason, his earning potential would have been severely restricted.
To be clear, Murakami will still have to go through the posting system in three years. He won't be a true free agent. Murakami will have a 45-day negotiating window and the MLB team that signs him will have to pay the Swallows a posting fee, based on the size of the player's contract. Here's the posting fee structure:
- Contract worth less than $25 million: 20 percent of contract value
- Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5 percent of amount over $25 million
- Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15 percent of amount over $50 million
A hypothetical $300 million contract would come with a $46.775 million posting fee, so it would be $346.755 million all-in. Even a $150 million contract would come with a $24.275 million posting fee. The posting fee is a potentially significant secondary expense.
While setting a new home run record every year is unreasonable, three more seasons similar to 2022 would set Murakami up for a massive payday after 2025. It's impossible to know which teams will need what in three years, but it would be safe to assume MLB's big market teams (Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Yankees, etc.) will all have interest in Murakami when the time comes.
The $4.4 million salary makes Murakami one of the highest paid players in Japan. Former Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka was NPB's highest paid player this past season with a salary believed to be in the $8 million range.