A Brief Explanation of the Nippon Professional and Major League Baseball Posting System

Hisashi Iwakuma

Using the posting system, Golden Eagles pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was granted permission to pursue an MLB contract during the 2010 offseason. Though the Oakland Athletics won exclusive negotiating rights through auction-style bidding, the two sides were unable to agree on terms by the end of the 30-day period.

A Brief Explanation of the Posting System

Nippon Professional Baseball and Korean Baseball Organization have posting systems that limit free agents’ rights to sign with foreign pro baseball leagues. To negotiate a new deal with an MLB franchise, NPB and KBO players must petition their current organizations to agree to post them; the club is (in essence) being asked to temporarily forfeit rights to the player in exchange for compensation. If their current club agrees to grant their request, the team will then notify the NPB Commissioner’s Office of the decision. The NPB then contacts the MLB Commissioner, whom in turn apprises all American and National League front offices.

Players may be posted between November 1st and March 1st. Once posted, MLB ballcubs have four days to bid on rights to a thirty-day window of exclusive contract negotiations with the player. These bids are “silent”– other teams aren’t aware of the terms. Placed in US dollars, bids are sent directly to the MLB Commissioner’s Office.

Following the completion of the four-day auction period, the MLB then notifies the player’s NPB ballclub (via the NPB Commissioner’s Office) of the winning bidder. If the NPB club chooses to accept the winning bid, they agree to grant the MLB franchise a thirty-day period of private contract negotiations with the posted player.  If the NPB team rejects the bid, they forfeit the auction money completely.

The posting system only applies to players currently under contract with NPB and KOB teams. Free agents and players whom have completed nine years of service time are exempt from these posting rules and may openly negotiate with foreign professional baseball leagues. For instance, Daisuke Matsuzaka who was under contract with the NPB’s Seibu Lions at the time, was posted before negotiating an MLB contract with the Red Sox in the ’06 offseason. During the same offseason though, NPB free agent Hideki Okajima signed with Boston directly and without a posting fee.

Nippon Professional Baseball Players Posted 1998-2011
Posting DatePlayer's NameNPB ClubMLB ClubTransfer ("Posting") FeeContract Agreement DateNotes
02/02/1999Alejandro Diaz QuezadaHiroshima Toyo Carp$400,00103/02/1999Signed Minor League Contract
02/02/1999Timo PerezHiroshima Toyo CarpNoneN/AN/ARe-Signed with Carp on 02/03/1999
11/09/2000Ichiro SuzukiOrix Blue Wave$13,125,00011/30/2000Signed Three-Year $14 Million Contract
01/03/2002Kazuhisa IshiiYakult Swallows$11,260,05502/02/2002Signed Four-Year $12.3 Million Contract
12/18/2002Akinori OtsukaOsaka Kintetsu BuffaloesNoneN/AN/ASigned with Chunichi Dragons
02/06/2003Ramon RamirezHiroshima Toyo Carp$300,05003/09/2003Minor League Contract
11/11/2003Akinori OtsukaChunichi Dragons$300,00012/10/2003Signed Two-Year $1.8 Million Contract
01/28/2005Norihiro NakamuraOrix Buffaloes?02/03/2005Signed Minor League Contract
11/22/2005Yusaku IrikiHokkaido Nippon-Ham FightersNoneN/AN/AReleased on 12/05/2005 and Signed One-Year $750,000 Contract with Mets on 01/18/2006
12/12/2005Shinji MoriSeibu Lions$1,000,00001/11/2006Signed Two-Year $1.4 Million Contract with Devil Rays
11/02/2006Daisuke MatsuzakaSeibu Lions$51,111,111.1112/13/2006Signed Six-Year $52 Million Contract with Red Sox
11/06/2006Akinori IwamuraYakult Swallows$4,500,00012/15/2006Signed Three-Year $7.7 Million Contract with Devil Rays
11/17/2006Kei IgawaHanshin Tigers$26,000,19412/28/2006Signed Five-Year $20 Million Contract with Yankees
12/20/2008Koji MitsuiSeibu LionsNoneN/AN/ANo MLB Clubs Placed Bids
01/05/2009Koji MitsuiSeibu LionsNoneN/AN/APosted for a Second Time, but Still Didn't Receive Any Bids.
11/02/2010Hisashi IwakumaTohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles$19,100,000N/ADeclined the Oakland Athletics' Four-Year $15 Million (1.25 Billion Yen) Contract Offer
11/15/2010Tsuyoshi NishiokaChiba Lotte Marines$5,329,00012/17/201012/17/2010Signed Three-Year $9.25 Million Contract with Twins
References
NPBTracker.com – A Great Blog-Style Website for Anyone Seeking Information on Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Official Website of Nippon Professional Baseball – Google Translate Available For Those Who Don’t Understand Japanese.
BR Bullpen – Top-Shelf NPB and MLB Encyclopedia and Database.
Japanball.com – An Informative and Well Kept Blog Covering the Japanese Baseball World.