Report: Rakuten Golden Eagles Will Not Post Masahiro Tanaka, Will Instead Offer Pitcher Record Contract

Masahiro TanakaYozo Tachibana is playing the role of The Grinch this holiday season.

Several Japanese news outlets (via The New York Times) are reporting that the Rakuten Golden Eagles — the Japanese club owned by Mr. Tachibana — will not post prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for MLB teams this offseason. Instead, the Eagles reportedly will offer Tanaka a contract with a record annual salary of 800 million yen (or around $7.7 million).

Tanaka’s next contract in Japan could double his current salary and make him the highest-paid pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history, but it’s hardly what the 25-year-old wants. Tanaka said earlier this week that he’d like to pitch in Major League Baseball in 2014, and there’s been talk that the right-hander could land a contract in excess of $100 million if posted by the Eagles.

The Eagles’ reluctance to let Tanaka take his talents to the United States stems from the new posting system put in place by MLB and NPB. The system consists of a $20 million cap for players who are posted, which is less than half of what Japanese teams received for pitchers Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka under the previous system. In other words, while the Eagles are passing up $20 million in guaranteed money, they’re also ensuring that they won’t see a drop in ticket and merchandise sales through Tanaka’s departure.

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA during the regular season in 2013. He will not become a free agent until after the 2015 season and can move to MLB only if the Eagles agree to post him.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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