Carter Stewart, a 19-year-old pitcher from Florida made headlines recently after he decided to sign a contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League. Stewart is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who negotiated a deal worth over $7 million for the next six-years. If Stewart plays for the duration of his contract in Japan, and excels, he’ll be due for a big payday on the open free agency market in Major League Baseball.
The last player to reach true free agency by 25-years-old was Alex Rodriguez. Most players do not reach free agency until they are 28-29 years old due to free agency rules set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Stewart’s decision to play in Japan could set a precedent for other players who may opt for bigger deals overseas rather than playing in the MLB’s farm system. MLB’s rules stipulate a “foreign professional” to have spent “all or part of at least six seasons” playing in an “MLB-recognized foreign professional league.” Although Stewart is American, he will be considered a foreign professional according to this language.
Stewart was the No. 8 overall pick in the MLB draft last year by the Atlanta Braves. He decided not to sign with them after they offered him a signing bonus well under the $4.98 million slot value of the pick.
Now Stewart will make over $7 million during his six-year stint in Japan and will be able to transfer to Major League Baseball, through the posting system, at 25-years old.