How posting works

DMZ · October 17, 2005 at 11:29 am · Filed Under General baseball 

This comes up every time a Japanese player is rumored to be heading over (now with Matsuzaka), so here’s a quick overview. Not every Japanese player goes through this process. Players who are free agents in Japan can sign wherever they want. Players like Ichiro, who are still under team control (and team control in Japan is much longer and odious than MLB), must go through the posting process. Using Ichiro’s case as an example, here’s how this works.

(prelude: player asks their team to be posted, and team decides they’ll do so)

1. Japanese team notifies the Japanese Commissioner’s Office that they’ll let Ichiro be posted.
2. Japanese Commissioner notifies MLB
3. MLB notifies all teams that Ichiro is available
4. Teams have four days to submit a bid. The bid is how much they’ll pay the team not for the player but the chance to negotiate a contract with the player. The Mariners submit a bid of $12.5m.
5. The Japanese team, Orix, is informed of the highest bidder, the Mariners
6. The Japanese team has four days to accept or reject the winning bid
7. They make a decision:
If they accept, the winning team has 30 days to agree to a contract with the posted player
If they reject, no deal. They can’t then shop him to the second-highest bidding team or anything.

In Ichiro’s case, Orix accepts the posting offer, and the Mariners begin discussing contract terms with Ichiro.

8. Then the player and the winning team negotiate, and one of two things happens:
If the winning team and player can come to an agreement, the player signs and reports to spring training next season, and the Japanese team gets the posting fee. The Mariners and Ichiro agreed, and he signed his original 2001 deal.

If the winning team and player can’t come to an agreement, the player returns to the team that controls his rights, and the Japanese team does not get the posting fee. The player then waits for next year or to become a normal FA, when he can go where he wants

This is pretty bad for the player, who already has a tough lot as a Japanese player compared to his MLB peers. There’s also potential for abuse by MLB teams playing games with each other.


22 Responses to “How posting works”

  1. Russ on October 17th, 2005 11:39 am

    Permapost with a link candidate.

  2. Jon on October 17th, 2005 12:15 pm

    Is there anything at all to stop the mlb teams screwing one another? I mean, say the Athletics can’t afford/don’t want the player, but they know the Mariners do, and they don’t want them to have him, can they just bid $100 million, offer the player a 10 year contract for a peanut every five years, and then happily go about their day?

  3. DMZ on October 17th, 2005 12:18 pm

    “There’s also potential for abuse by MLB teams playing games with each other.”

    This hasn’t happened yet. It is likely that the Commissioner exercises oversight on the bids and tries to ensure, as much as he can, that they’re in good faith.

    Even if that is not true, there’s a substantial social obligation on teams to not screw around. Playing games with the process could kill the process, and then they’ll have to start over, and while posting sucks, no one wants to go back to a blank piece of paper.

    That said, I don’t think anything prevents it.

  4. Lokiforever on October 17th, 2005 12:18 pm

    Jon – It seems that there is the potential for the scenario you outline. Hopefully the Japanese ball club is smarter than that, and can review MLB team budgets and assess the quality of the bid, and the chances of the MLB team and the Japanese player coming to agreement. This system does create all kinds of opportunities for gaming the system and game theorists in general.

  5. abun on October 17th, 2005 12:31 pm

    How did the M’s account for the posting cost of Ichiro, or would they account for this cost in regards to Matzusaka in the payroll budget? Perhaps the japanese influence will give them some leeway in the posting fee for a japanese player (maybe the cost comes out of marketing). I payroll is payroll and the posting fees are considered a separate issue, the GM might find himself with a nice deal.

  6. DMZ on October 17th, 2005 12:40 pm

    This goes outside the scope of the post, but — the Mariners regard the acquisition of foreign players as an expense that’s accounted for differently, so that a Japanese or Cuban player’s first contract doesn’t come out of the same “bucket”, essentially.

    The why of this remains unknown.

  7. Jon on October 17th, 2005 12:51 pm

    Re #4 – I thought that they were obliged to accept the highest bid, so the hypothetical Evil Athletics could presumably even tell everyone what they were up to and still get away with it. I’m sure DMZ is right, though – the other teams would probably send some gentlemen with bats around to chat with them about it…

  8. desertborn on October 17th, 2005 1:07 pm

    Did the Japanese Commissioner’s Office come up with this process? Does anyone know a little history on it? I will do a little research myself and post what I find (If I come up with an answer).

  9. DMZ on October 17th, 2005 1:13 pm

    I know some history, I can write some more up later.

  10. desertborn on October 17th, 2005 1:17 pm

    Thanks Derek!

  11. Nadingo on October 17th, 2005 1:27 pm

    “(prelude: player asks their team to be posted, and team decides they’ll do so)”

    So for this part, does the Japanese team weigh the value they get from keeping the player on the team against the amount they expect an MLB team will be willing to pay? Is that what’s going on with the jerking around of Matsuzaka — Seibu is saying he’s not a good enough player for an American team to pay them more than what Seibu would get by keeping him around?

  12. Tom on October 17th, 2005 2:49 pm

    #11 – I think to some degree they respect the wishes of the player even though it hurts their team. I doubt our 12.5 million dollar posting fee made up for the loss of Ichiro.

  13. JPWood on October 17th, 2005 3:11 pm

    One thing is for sure: that $12.5M posting fee didn’t save the Orix Blue Wave from oblivion.

  14. jtopps on October 17th, 2005 4:44 pm

    “One thing is for sure: that $12.5M posting fee didn’t save the Orix Blue Wave from oblivion.”

    Nor did Ichiro save the Mariners from total collapse…

    Everyone gets it in the end.

  15. LB on October 17th, 2005 5:09 pm

    #2,3,4,7: The agreement that governs posting is available online at Paragraph 13 makes it possible for the U.S. commissioner to prevent those kind of tactics. (Since the document doesn’t seem to allow copy and paste and I am too lazy to type, I won’t quote the paragraph. But like they always say about baseball facts, you could look it up.)

  16. G-Man on October 17th, 2005 6:22 pm

    The 12.5 million had to be weighed againsty the value of Ichiro over the remaining term of his Japanese contract. If Ichiro had only 1 year left (and I think he had 1 or 2, IIRC), and he wanted to try MLB, Orix had to figure that they’d only get one more season out of him and then get zero for him.

    I’ve surmised that the Mariners’ wacko forgein player signing budgeting was created as a way to allow for more $$ to lure Japanese players without specifically limiting it to that. Something that Mr. Yamauchi would want, but that the partners didn’t want in their agreement for some reason, perhaps legally related.

  17. DMZ on October 17th, 2005 6:30 pm

    ’ve surmised that the Mariners’ wacko forgein player signing budgeting was created as a way to allow for more $$ to lure Japanese players without specifically limiting it to that. Something that Mr. Yamauchi would want, but that the partners didn’t want in their agreement for some reason, perhaps legally related.

    That’s an interesting idea, but since they’ve long spent heavily acquiring players from Cuba and Venezuala (among other places) and relatively rarely from Japanese ball, it would seem that your surmission is incorrect.

  18. msb on October 17th, 2005 6:53 pm

    the Ichiro posting history:

    The Toronto Star
    November 9, 2000

    The Blue Jays submitted a sealed bid yesterday for the rights to seven-time Japanese batting champion Ichiro Suzuki. It was not known how many other teams met the 5 p.m. deadline for bidding on the 27-year-old Orix Blue Wave outfielder but the Tigers, Red Sox, Mets, Mariners, Dodgers and even the Twins are thought to have done so.

    To ensure the secrecy and integrity of the bidding process, the amount of the highest offer will be sent to the Orix management without the name of the team that made it. Orix will have four business days – until next Tuesday – to decide whether to accept or reject the bid.

    The Boston Globe
    November 9, 2000
    By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

    The Sox also were among at least six teams submitting a sealed bid to the commissioner’s office for outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, the seven-time Japanese league batting champion who has applied for free agency from his Japanese team, the Orix Blue Wave. Suzuki, 27, hit .387 this season to win his seventh straight Pacific League batting title. Suzuki is a career .353 hitter with 118 home runs and 529 RBIs in nine seasons in Japan. There has been speculation that bids may go as high as $10 million for Suzuki.

    The Seattle Times
    November 9, 2000
    $13 million bid for right to sign Suzuki
    Larry Stone; Seattle Times staff reporter

    AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Major-league teams suspected that the cost of negotiating with Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki would be high, but the figure filtering out of Japan last night is staggering. Reportedly, the winning bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old outfielder was more than $13 million – and the team has yet to be revealed.
    Yesterday marked the deadline for major-league teams to submit bids for negotiating rights to Suzuki, and though the Mariners would not confirm their participation, it is a certainty they were among the teams that bid.

    The commissioner’s office planned to fax the highest bid to the Japanese commissioner’s office without revealing the name of the team. The Japanese officials were to pass on the bid to the Orix Blue Wave, Suzuki’s team, which has four business days to accept or reject the offer. According to several Japanese reporters, the Blue Wave announced that the winning bid was $13.125 million.

    The New York Times
    November 10, 2000
    Mariners Gain Rights to Sign Suzuki

    With a hefty offer of $13,125,000, the Seattle Mariners beat out the Mets and two other teams for the rights to the latest foreign phenomenon, Ichiro Suzuki, an outfielder who has won seven successive batting championships in Japan’s Pacific League. No details were disclosed about the other bidders or bids, but one baseball official said the Mariners’ figure dwarfed the one the Mets had submitted. The other bidders were believed to be the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels.


    “I’m not surprised that we didn’t get the winning bid,” Steve Phillips, the Mets’ general manager, said. “I anticipated there were going to be some teams that extended beyond us. Most teams expected Seattle would be aggressive.” Asked what he thought of the Mariners’ bid, Phillips said: “Every team has to make a decision for their own organization. I don’t think any judgment can be made on the package until the player is signed and we see what that deal looks like as well. Right now, the number doesn’t mean anything until it’s defined by the player’s contract.”

    Deciding how much to bid was probably the most difficult part of the procedure. Attanasio said one general manager told him he was confused about how to go about it if he wanted to submit a bid.

    November 10, 2000
    M’s win bid to woo Suzuki: Seattle gets 30 days to sign Japanese star at cost of $13 million
    By Larry Stone
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    The Mariners yesterday were awarded the negotiating rights to Suzuki, a seven-time Pacific League batting champion who is trying to become the first Japanese position player in the major leagues. In blind bidding among several major-league teams, the Mariners submitted the highest figure – a staggering $13.125 million (1.4 billion yen) that will go to the Orix BlueWave, Suzuki’s team in Kobe, if the Mariners sign him within 30 days.


    If, however, no contract agreement is reached by Dec. 9, no money will be exchanged, and Suzuki would play next season for the BlueWave and become a free agent next winter. The Mariners see Suzuki as their likely right fielder and a top-of-the-lineup hitter. “The bid is merely an opportunity to get on the dance floor,” [Lincoln] said. “We have been very interested in Suzuki. We wanted to make sure we won the bidding. There was competition. We won.”

    Los Angeles Times
    May 31, 2001
    Although L.A. Has Colborn, Seattle Is Riding Its Suzuki

    “The Mariners asked me for my evaluation and I said if Ichiro plays five years, at some point he will challenge for the batting championship, will be an All-Star, have 15 outfield assists and steal 50 bases,” Colborn said. “I didn’t think he’d do it his first year. “Since the Mariners were under Japanese ownership they said they had to get this guy, so they wanted a fail-safe number to bid for him. They asked me, and I said I was 85% sure they could get him for $10 million, but if they wanted to be 99% sure, the fail-safe bid should be $13 million.” The Dodgers bid a little more than $10 million–the rumor now being they finished second–to Seattle’s bid of $13 million.

    Newsday (New York, NY)
    July 12, 2001 Thursday
    Points of No Return
    Jon Heyman


    The Mets reportedly bid around half the Mariners’ winning bid of $13.1 million. Other teams thought Seattle went awfully high, but Ichiro, even with his three-year, $21-million deal figured in, is a steal.

  19. david on October 17th, 2005 10:48 pm

    I don’t see where is a good place to left this, so…

    Ichiro will guest appear on a Japanese TV mystery drama, schedule to show early next year.

    He will apparently play himself, no words if he will play the villian/suspect or the victim.

    It will be the second time Ichiro plays himself on screen, the first time, also playing himself, is a self bio of “run Ichiro run” but w/ no speaking parts.

  20. John Brooks on October 18th, 2005 8:21 am

    It’s unlikely to give them little or no leeway financial wise in posting fees. The NPB team will send the player to the team that has the highest bid(in example Seattle and Ichiro dealing w/the Orix BlueWave)or they will keep the player. Just because their is a Japanese influence on the team is doubtful to make a impact on getting Matsuzaka or any other NPB player via the posting system.

    Now when the Mariners go to contract negotiations with that player it might see a easier time with the fact Nintendo(one of Japan’s biggest video game companies own them), and that Ichiro Suzuki and Shigetoshi Hasegawa(if they retain him) play for them.

    Hideo Nomo had a falling with out former Kintetsu Buffaloes manager Keishi Suzuki and then retired. He later signed with the Dodgers as we all know. Then Robinson Checo who played with Carp signed with the Red Sox, who the Carp got into a major dispute over about. Then, Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano who was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Carp asked for a raise by the Carp, was refused by management, and left for the majors. Following this the NPB installed a posting system.

  21. DrNaka on October 18th, 2005 8:34 am

    Something to add for the posting system.
    The MLB club will have the player 3 years in control and 3 years in arbitation.
    So if the first round pick have a signings of $3M plus and only fewer than 50% make the to the majors and yet fewer to All Stars; to have posting fees above $10M is not big money.

  22. desertborn on October 19th, 2005 9:03 pm

    8,9,10 – Some history of the posting process:


    The first cracks in the system appeared in 1995, when Nomo, then 26 and one of Japan’s very best pitchers, used a loophole in the archaic Japanese baseball-convention rules that enabled him to circumvent free-agent regulations.

    Nomo’s success inspired so many players to follow in his footsteps that Japan’s baseball executives were moved to action. Led by Shigeyoshi Ino, general manager of the Pacific League Kobe-based Orix Blue Wave (owned by Orix Corp., a major leasing company), they came up with a plan designed to close the Nomo loophole and enable management to profit from the growing rash of defections. The so-called posting system gives a player still a year or two shy of free-agent eligibility the opportunity to sign up with a major league team—if that team agrees to pay his Japanese club a negotiating fee.

    Maybe someone has something else to add?

    White Sox vs. Astros World Series!!