Major League Baseball announced major changes to the way its clubs can sign talent from Nippon Professional Baseball, capping the “posting” fee at $20 million for any incoming Japanese players.
Previously, NPB teams had taken blind bids from MLB teams on players made available before deciding whether to accept a bid that would allow that MLB team a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the player.
The new accord will bring more major league teams into competition for incoming Japanese league players and could shift some of the rewards from the NPB clubs to players themselves.
The Texas Rangers offered a record posting fee of over $51 million in 2011 for Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Yu Darvish, who joined the AL West team after signing a six-year, $60 million deal.
The posting fee for Darvish was slightly higher than one paid by the Red Sox five years earlier for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed a six-year deal with Boston for $52 million.
“We are pleased to have amicably reached an agreement that addresses various issues raised by all parties,” MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Major League Baseball values its longstanding professional relationship with Nippon Professional Baseball, and we look forward to continuing the growth of the great game we share in the years to come.”
INDIANS SIGN AXFORD
Right-handed reliever John Axford, non-tendered by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this month, has reached agreement on a contract, pending a physical, to become the Cleveland Indians’ closer.
Axford, 30, was the Milwaukee Brewers’ closer from 2010-12, and he led the National League with 46 saves in 2011. He wound up as a middle reliever in 2013, then was dealt to St. Louis in August.
Axford had no decisions and a 1.59 ERA in six postseason appearances for the National League champion Cardinals. During 13 regular-season appearances for St. Louis, he went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA.
The Indians also signed free agent right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum to a minor-league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training.
Marcum, 32, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the New York Mets prior to last season, but he went 1-10 with a 5.19 ERA for the Mets in 2013 before being shut down to undergo thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
WHITE SOX TRADE CLOSER
The Chicago White Sox sent closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for triple-A third baseman Matt Davidson, the teams announced Monday.
Reed, 24, saved 40 games in 48 chances last season with a 3.79 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings.
Davidson, 22, a former first-round pick who has been ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, played at triple-A Reno last season.
In 115 games for Reno, Davidson hit .280 with 32 doubles, 17 homers and 74 RBI. In 31 games for the D-Backs, he hit .237 with six doubles, three homers and 12 RBI.
The trade comes one week after the White Sox sent pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels and received center fielder Adam Eaton from Arizona in a three-team swap.
FLOYD SIGNS WITH BRAVES
Free agent right-handed pitcher Gavin Floyd and the Atlanta Braves agreed on a one-year contract worth $4 million, multiple media outlets reported Monday.
ESPN.com reported that Floyd could also receive up to an additional $4.5 million in incentives.
Floyd will be returning from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready until May at the earliest.
Floyd, 30, made just five starts for the Chicago White Sox before undergoing surgery on May 6. Because both the tendon and ligament were repaired, there is a chance Floyd could need more than the 12-month rehab that starting pitchers often do after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Floyd has a career 70-70 record and 4.48 ERA over 10 seasons with the White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.