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The Future of Major League Baseball, Far-East Talent Pool

Guest contribution by a loyal reader of, Brent DeCoster

With the recent report coming out of Boston that the Red Sox have agreed to a three year deal, worth about $3 million with Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa, is it finally time to start paying closer attention to the impact of Asian-born players on America’s pastime?

There have been players including the likes of Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo, and Hideki Matsui to name a few, that all had immediate success within Major League Baseball.  With high profile teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees reaching deep into their pockets for young Japanese talent, and even the small payroll organizations like the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays looking to add a spark to their club’s lineup, it seems like major league organizations are willing to take a chance on far-east talent.

There is no rule that currently prevents major league teams from pursuing Japanese amateur ballplayers, however following Tazawa choice to forgo Japan’s draft, Japanese professional teams have reached an agreement that places a ban on players who attempt to return to Japan to play professionally once said players opt to play overseas.

Before agreeing to terms with the Red Sox, the 22-year-old flame thrower received attention from other major league clubs including the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers, but rejected their offers.  It will be interesting to watch the development of Tazawa and ultimately see what kind of impact he makes on Major League Baseball compared to Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the other Asian-born players.

I also think it is worth noting that there will be many questions that arise as a result of these Asian players making an impact on American baseball.  Are major league teams going to look to Asia as the next Latin America in terms of talent?  What will happen as a result to the Asian professional leagues as more and more of their players come to America?  Is a team eventually going to go as far into looking to hire an Asian manager?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

2 replies on “The Future of Major League Baseball, Far-East Talent Pool”

This is a great article. I think professional baseball in America is definetely looking more into the Asian born talent in hopes of getting them to play here. As a result I think the Asian professional leagues will fold because of the top talent coming to play here in America.

The MLB’s failure to recruit young ballplayers from many Asian countries, Japan in particular, may have less to do with ignorance of talent and more to do with an unspoken “gentleman’s agreement” that, until now it seems, existed between MLB and baseball organizations in those countries. A recent article by The Boston Herald’s Sean McAdam looks at the current controversy. If you have a moment, it is worth a quick read.

After reading this article, I would like to know: Was Boston right to go ahead and sign Tazawa?

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