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Japanese to the Majors Sooner?

Discussion in the Nichi-Bei forum
Japanese to the Majors Sooner?
Why don't Japanese players come to play in the US sooner if they can get paid more here? I guess what I really want to know is, what kind of hold does the country of Japan or the NPB have over these players?

In the US you can always leave to play in another country. The team that drafted you holds the rights to you if you want to come back and play in the US, but you are free to leave.
Re: Japanese to the Majors Sooner?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 23, 2009 10:32 PM ]

- [...] but you are free to leave

Can you elaborate more on this? What's in the contract they sign when they are drafted? With the amount of signing bonuses they are asking nowadays, I don't think they are that free to leave.
Re: Japanese to the Majors Sooner?
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 23, 2009 11:48 PM | YBS Fan ]

This was covered a number of years ago, but it's well worth a revisit.

There are really only a few ways to get out of ones contract with a team:
  1. Reach Free Agency
    The number of years required to reach free agency is in flux, but the caveat that most people outside of Japan don't realize is that 1 year does not equal 365 days. It is a specific number of days that a player is registered for the top (as opposed to farm) team. That is why it often takes 10 years or more to qualify for 8 years of service and become a free agent.

  2. Get Traded
    While trades are much more rare in Japan than in MLB, they do happen. A player not getting much time may request to be traded. If the management doesn't see much potential in him, they may grant said request. Or they may do so for strategic reason. However, such trades are only workable within Japan. To be "traded" to the Majors would require posting.

  3. The Posting System
    Everyone is now familiar enough with the posting system that it shouldn't need explanation. Some teams don't believe in the posting system and will not use it. Not everyone wants to go to the Majors, so they won't use it.

  4. Sit Out a Year
    The final alternative is to not renew ones contract with a team and sit out a year. That means that the player may not player professionally for any team worldwide. A player's team holds the exclusive rights for his use as a professional baseball player unless or until they give him his release. Playing with amateur teams is also forbidden without special permission from the Commissioner's Office (which is highly unlikely as the Commissioner's Office serves the owners). Once a full year has passed since the expiration of the previous contract, the player is basically declared a free agent and is able to contract his services where ever he sees fit.

  5. Get Released
    One may be released by a team for a number of reasons. One reason may even be so that one is not burdened by a contract and one may pursue MLB free of any restraints. It would be a very nice ball club to do so. But the most common reason for one's release is due to poor performance and the ball club not seeing how one will fit into future plans.
Irabu had threatened to sit out a year before the Marines and Padres backed out of their deal and Irabu was let go just to get the whole scandal settled.

When Komiyama went to the Majors and returned, the Yokohama BayStars still held his rights in Japan. For some reason or another, Komi-chan and Yokohama couldn't agree to terms and he sat out one year. After that year was up, Komiyama was declared a free agent and he returned to the Chiba Lotte Marines.

I'm sure that MLB, who pays out even larger signing bonuses than NPB, has a similar policy - although the term of initial service to reach free agency is vastly shorter.

Hope this helps clear things up.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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