A Japanese man wearing a Devil Ray baseball uniform points his arms upward as he prepares to pitch in the bullpen.
The second Japanese-born player to play in MLB, Hideo Nomo used a loophole to void his NPB contract.
MLB and NPB officials created the posting system as a combined reaction to three cases in the 1990s, involving NPB players who moved to MLB. The first of these occurred in the winter of 1994 when pitcher Hideo Nomo, with the help of agent Don Nomura, became the second Japanese-born player to play in MLB, 30 years after Murakami. Nomo, who was not yet eligible for free agency in Japan, was advised by Nomura that a "voluntary retirement" clause in the Working Agreement did not specify that a player wishing to play again after retiring must return to NPB. Nomo utilized this loophole to void his NPB contract with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and play in MLB. He announced his retirement from NPB in late 1994 and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 1995, where he won the National League Rookie of the Year award. The following year, the Dodgers signed Nomo to a three-year, $4.3 million contract.
With baseball in hand, an African-American man wearing a white and red Nationals baseball uniform cocks his arm backward as he prepares to throw.
Alfonso Soriano's move to MLB helped prompt the creation of the posting system.
In early 1997, after months of negotiations, the San Diego Padres signed a working agreement with the Chiba Lotte Marines that gave the Padres exclusive signing rights to another Nomura client, Hideki Irabu. Although both Irabu and Nomura stated that Irabu would only sign with the New York Yankees, neither the Padres nor the Marines consulted Irabu before finalizing their deal. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) sided with Irabu, stating that the arrangement unfairly disregarded a player's expressed wishes. However, MLB's executive council ruled that the Padres had not violated any existing rule, and therefore legally held the rights to Irabu. Following this decision, Irabu contemplated a number of different options, including playing in NPB until he became a free agent, and taking the matter to the U.S. judicial system. By May, however, the Padres gave in and traded Irabu to the Yankees, who signed him for $12.8 million over four years.
The final incident occurred in 1998, when Alfonso Soriano was unable to leave the Hiroshima Toyo Carp due to contract restrictions. Soriano disliked the intense Japanese practice schedule, and the Carp denied him a salary increase from $45,000 to $180,000 per year. Like Nomo and Irabu, Soriano hired Nomura to help his situation. After first attempting to void Soriano's NPB contract by unsuccessfully arguing that the player was legally a minor when he signed it Nomura advised him, like Nomo, to retire from NPB and pursue a career in MLB. This prompted Carp executives to file an injunction against Soriano, and to send letters to MLB teams demanding that they cease all negotiations with him. After the Nomo case, NPB officials had amended the Working Agreement without consulting any MLB officials in an attempt to prevent the situation from recurring. Since MLB had not agreed to any changes to the agreement, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declared that MLB would recognize Soriano as a free agent on July 13, 1998, and the Carp backed down. He signed a 5-year, $3.1 million contract with the New York Yankees the same year.
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