The Rakuten Golden Eagles will not allow pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to be posted and sign with a Major League Baseball team for the 2014 season, according to Ken Belson of the New York Times. Ratuken's refusal to post Tanaka has appeared inevitable for several weeks now, but it could be made official this week.
The Japanese team will meet with their ace on Friday to tell him that he will not be made available to US clubs as he had requested, reports Belson. Instead, the Times reporter says the team could make him the highest paid player in Japanese history by doubling or even tripling his current $4 million salary. The Eagles were the Nippon Professional Baseball League Champions last season and by keeping Tanaka they certainly improve their chances of repeating. Tanaka is under team control through 2015, so Rukatan could still earn the $20 million maximum posting fee created by the new agreement between MLB and NPB by posting him next off-season.
While the Golden Eagles are likely to benefit from Tanaka's presence on the field and at the ticket windows, pride may play a key role in their decision to keep the star righty from coming to America. According to Peter Gammons of MLB Network, reports say that if Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani were to post Tanaka, it woud be an admission that the NPB is a minor league for MLB.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding Tanaka's posting, the market for the starting pitchers has moved slowly this off-season. If Rakuten officially announces that they will not allow Tanaka to be posted after meeting with him Friday, the bidding for pitchers Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and several other arms could begin to heat up.