Munetaka Murakami, the record-setting third baseman for the Yakult Swallow in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, hopes to make the jump to Major League Baseball soon, he told the Kyodo News on Monday. Murakami hit 56 home runs in 2022, .
"Of course I want to try. I don't know how old I'll be, but I'm still young, so the sooner the better," Murakami said. "It will involve discussions with (the Swallows), but if I can go, I want to go soon."
"Of course, since I first joined (Yakult), the challenge (of the majors) is something that I have eventually wanted to take on, if allowed the opportunity," Murakami said.
Murakami, 22, must be posted by Yakult to come to MLB, and because he is not yet 25, he would be subject to MLB's international bonus pools. The same was true of Shohei Ohtani a few years ago. He came to MLB at 23.
Because Murakami would be subject to the international bonus pools, teams could not simply continue adding money to their offer until he says yes. Small-market teams receive larger international bonus pools than large-market teams each year, though the bonus pools still aren't very big., and are a hard cap.
Murakami could wait three years until he is 25 to come over, at which point he could sign a contract of any size. Then again, he did say the "sooner the better" when asked about heading to MLB, indicating he doesn't want to wait that long. Like Ohtani, he appears willing to come over despite the international bonus pools limiting his earning potential.
The Swallows have a history of posting their best players, most notably Kaz Ishii, Akinori Iwamura, and Nori Aoki. That suggests they'll be open to posting Murakami at some point. Here is 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
Give Murakami a $100 million contract and you also have to pay the Swallows a $16.775 million posting fee. That said, MLB's international rules would limit Murakami to a bonus in the $6 million range, in which case Yakult would only receive a $1.2 million posting fee. That could impact the club's decision to post Murakami.
The lefty-swinging Murakami authored a .318/.458/.711 batting line with those 56 home runs in 2022. The surface numbers are great and he also posted the best hard-hit rate in Japan this year. He plays a solid third base as well.