MLB team's desire for Masahiro Tanaka has been palpable all offseason long, with their biggest obstacle being the international posting system. Now, with the system all but in place (it's awaiting approval by the MLB council whom it benefits, so chances are it goes through), Tanaka should prepare to be wooed. The cost of wooing him is a mere $20 million, putting him in a lot of team's ranges.
However, what could derail every part of this plan would be if Tanaka's current NPB team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, didn't want to let him go at all. And why would they? He was only the best pitcher in their league in 2013 (24-0, 1.27 ERA).
The Golden Eagles' owner is the only hold-up on the Japanese end. The players union and 11 of the 12 teams have given it the okay, but the Golden Eagles, who are the most centric team to the issue this year, aren't quite sure. The over $50 million that Japanese teams received for posting their players for MLB consideration in the past would be more than halved in the case of the Golden Eagles and Tanaka, who has put up even more dominant numbers than past potential international signings.
However, Japanese players and fans are eager to see their players move onto MLB, so the pressure is on. It's just a matter of how badly Rakuten wants to hold onto their star. In two years, Tanaka will be a free agent; a time Rakuten may determine is more beneficial at which to lose him.
It's a position that Rakuten's president, Yozo Tachibana, will shed some light on per his arrival at baseball's Winter Meetings in Orlando.