The Rakuten Golden Eagles will try to convince right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to hold off on posting for another season when they meet to discuss his options this week, reports Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Sponichi).
Tanaka, 25, was primed to be the most coveted pitching commodity on the open market this winter, but his Japanese club has been reluctant to part with the right-hander since MLB and NPB tentatively agreed to a $20 million (a little over two billion yen) posting fee cap two weeks ago.
The Golden Eagles were the only club to initially oppose the new deal and have come out saying that they're unsure $20 million is a "fair value" for someone of Tanaka's potential. Yu Darvish, whom Tanaka was/is expected to eclipse in overall money, was posted for $51.7 million two years ago.
It's unclear what Rakuten's endgame is in not posting Tanaka this winter -- it seems highly unlikely MLB will renegotiate the new three-year posting deal if he doesn't come stateside -- but the Sponichi article (roughly translated) indicates that the club views it as a "compromise." Tanaka is under team control for two more years, so it makes a certain amount of sense that the posting money would be more valuable to Rakuten after the 2014 season -- $20 million for one season is significantly better than the same amount for two.
George A. King III of the NY Post reports that Rakuten has already made up its mind about keeping Tanaka. However, the team has said it will ultimately yield to Tanaka's wishes, so there's still a chance he'll be available in the coming weeks.
Rakuten's hesitance to post Tanaka has brought the once fast-developing pitching market to a halt. Heading into the final day of the Winter Meetings last week, it was reported that Matt Garza would "sign soon," but it's been very quiet on that front since Rakuten president Yozo Tachibana announced that Tanaka's fate was still in limbo.
Should Tanaka remain in Japan, the market should kick back into high gear and the values of Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez will likely skyrocket. Several clubs, including the Angels, Yankees, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Mariners, are still on the prowl for rotation help.