The Japanese reports indicated Tanaka met with the team’s owner, Hiroshi Mikitani and was told of the team’s decision to allow Tanaka a chance to pitch in the Major Leagues next season. Rakuten’s team president Yozo Tachibana made the formal announcement they had decided to post Tanaka.
Masahiro Tanaka is expected to announce which agent will represent him and those negotiations could begin as soon as Thursday once the posting is made official by Nippon Professional Baseball to Major League Baseball. Once he is posted, any Major League team willing to put up the $20 million release fee is eligible to negotiate a deal.
Casey Close was seen as the frontrunner to represent Tanaka from a field of agents that was believed to include Close, Arn Tellem and Mark Pieper. A report from Sponichi indicated Scott Boras is also in the mix to be Tanaka’s agent.
The MLB teams that submit the $20 million posting fee will have 30 days to negotiate and sign Masahiro Tanaka. And only the team that signs him has to pay the posting fee to Rakuten. Once Tanaka is signed, it will take him about two weeks to obtain a Visa which should allow him enough time to be able to report to Spring Training without any delays.
Agreeing to the new posting system and the money lost by Rakuten under the new agreement delayed the announcement that many expected would be made. Tanaka said last year, prior to signing a three-year contract with the Golden Eagles that his dream was to pitch in the Major Leagues.
Rakuten is reportedly looking into ways to recoup some of the posting fee they “lost” under the new agreement by MLB and NPB. According to the report from Sponichi, Rakuten has looked into how Tanaka could enhance the global brand of their internet business.
The Cubs are expected to “be all in” on Masahiro Tanaka according to Bruce Levine and David Kaplan. The Yankees, Angels, Diamondbacks and Dodgers are also expected to be all in on Tanaka. Kaplan reported he spoke with a MLB source on Tuesday that told him the Cubs will “not be outbid” on Tanaka, but “convincing Tanaka to come to Chicago will be hard.” The same source told Kaplan he is not sure Tanaka would turn down either the Yankees or the Dodgers.
Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times reported Rakuten will make an official announcement they decided to post Masahiro Tanaka later in the day on Dec. 25 and they have allowed “Ma-Kun” to chase him dreams in the majors.