TOKYO (Reuters) - The New York Yankees, who spent $46 million to negotiate with and sign pitcher Kei Igawa, said on Thursday Japan’s system for making talent available to Major League Baseball needs review.
“The posting system, clearly with what took place this winter, might not necessarily be the best system,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
“If there is a better way for everyone involved, those things will be pursued.”
New York signed the Japanese lefthander to a $20-million, five-year contract after a “posting” auction in which it bid $26 million to Igawa’s Hanshin Tigers for negotiating rights.
The contract followed the record $51.1 million bid from the Boston Red Sox to the Seibu Lions to negotiate with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed a $52 million, six-year contract.
The Matsuzaka bid, reportedly equal to three times Seibu’s 2006 payroll, astonished the player and baseball executives on both sides of the Pacific.
The “posting” system was created to allow Japanese teams about to lose players to free agency to hold a blind auction among MLB participants for the rights to negotiate.
The MLB club only pays the Japanese team if a contract with the player is signed.
“My opinion hasn’t changed since they initiated (posting). I wasn’t in favor,” Cashman said, noting that MLB officials speak on behalf of all teams.
Jim Small, MLB’s vice president for Asia, said a joint review with Japanese professional baseball would be conducted and changes made if deemed necessary.
Earlier on Thursday, the Yankees general manager and president Randy Levine met with officials of the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most storied franchise, where they said the posting system and other topics were discussed.
Cashman and Levine will travel to Okinawa on Friday to meet Hanshin Tigers team representatives.
The Yankees executives began their Asian road trip in Beijing, where New York announced joint plans with Chinese officials to send staff including coaches and scouts to train local players as well as build baseball academies.
The agreement was the first between an MLB club and the Chinese baseball association.
“We’re here to help them with our expertise, our know-how, the Yankee brand, our resources to get to that next step,” Levine said.
“It’s just a matter of couple of years before they start to turn out great baseball players.”