LOS ANGELES -- While we wait for the Dodgers to complete their deal for Kenta Maeda, there are several unknown variables. But there are some things we do know with about six days remaining for the Japanese right-handed pitcher to finalize his contract.
For one thing, unlike the relatively open-ended negotiations with free agent Hisashi Iwakuma that fizzled 11 days after a reported agreement in principle, Maeda has a hard deadline.
Per the terms of the revised posting agreement that Major League Baseball reached with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in December 2013, the posting period lasts 30 days beginning with the day after the player was posted. In Maeda's case, he has until Friday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. PT to finalize a contract with a major league team, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Unlike MLB's agreement with the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), which has one team winning bidding rights for an exclusive 30-day negotiating window, the Japanese posting system allows any team to negotiate with the player within the 30-day period as long as they are willing to pay the release fee should they strike a deal.
The Japanese team — the Hiroshima Carp, in Maeda's case — sets the release fee prior to posting, with a maximum of $20 million, which is the fee for Maeda.
If Maeda is unable to finalize a contract by his Friday deadline, including completed physical, Hiroshima gets no release fee, then he goes back to Japan and he can't be posted again until the next posting period, which runs annually from Nov. 1 to Feb. 1.
But if Maeda does reach a deal with an MLB team, as is expected, the $20 million fee would be due in installments. The installment schedule depends on the size of the fee, but at the maximum of $20 million the schedule would likely be identical to the schedule laid out for the Yankees to pay Rakuten for signing Masahiro Tanaka before the 2014 season, reported by Kiley McDaniel, then of Scout.com.
Per the agreement between MLB and NPB, any release fee under $10 million is due in two equal installments — one in 14 days and one in 12 months. For fees $10 million and larger, like Maeda's $20 million fee, the installments are as follows:
- 50 percent ($10 million) due within 14 days of the contract getting finalized
- 17 percent ($3.4 million) due within six months of the completion of the contract
- 17 percent ($3.4 million) due within 12 months of the completion of the contract
- 16 percent ($3.2 million) due within 18 months of the completion of the contract
In other words, should the Dodgers sign Maeda this coming week, they would have to pay Hiroshima $13.4 million in 2016, and the remaining $6.6 million in 2017. The release fee does not count against the competitive balance tax.
Now we just sit back and wait for the potentially bizarre — eight years, only $24 million guaranteed (?!?!?!) per Christopher Meola on Saturday — contract details and for the deal to be finalized. The clock is ticking.