When Masahiro Tanaka throws his first pitch in the Major Leagues, we will already know a lot about him. Or, more accurately, we will already know a lot about him when it comes to money.
A contract north of $100 million. That $20 million posting fee. And, of course, the record contract he would have made in Japan if the Rakuten Golden Eagles would have refused to post him.
It is in that context that the 25-year-old Tanaka expressed his desire to “repay the team that developed him.” According to Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Major League Baseball will make every effort to ensure that Tanaka does no such thing:
The president of Tanaka’s Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, said at a news conference this week that Tanaka wishes to make donations to improve the Eagles’ stadium and its facilities for players and fans.
The agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball expressly prohibits a Japanese club from getting any value other than the so-called posting fee, directly or indirectly, including through the player, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.
“’We are intent on enforcing all the provisions of the agreement,’ Courtney said.
So it will be $20 million and not a penny more for the Golden Eagles to allow their young starting pitcher to pursue his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues, even if Tanaka wishes to pay them more himself.