NPB to Eliminate Tazawa Rule

Junichi Tazawa skipped the NPB draft so he could sign a major league contract with the Boston Red Sox back in 2008. To discourage other players from going directly to major league baseball they established a rule, called the Tazawa Rule” that required a Japanese player who chooses not to enter the NPB draft in order to play in another foreign league had to wait two or three seasons before they could be drafted by an NPB team, the years dependent on the rout the player chose to play in the foreign league.

Tazawa signed with the Red Sox in 2008 after playing in a corporate league in Japan. While he did not have a stellar career in major league baseball, he did pitch for the Red Sox when they won the World Series in 2013. He played long enough in the majors to finish with a 21-26 record with a 4.12 ERA while pitching in 388 games.

This year Tazawa had signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. When the minor leagues was cancelled Tazawa had to find some place to play so he signed a contract with the Saitama Musashi Bears in one of the Japanese Independent Leagues. With the elimination of the Tazawa rule Junichi can now be eligible for the NPB draft next year.

Note that it is interesting that even at 34 years old he will have to be drafted in order to play. No team can sign him as a free agent. It will be interesting to see if any NPB teams draft him. The reason for the change was the increase in pay for players in the NPB. The minimum salary for players under contract in the NPB according to the Japan Times is about $40,000. The minimum salary for minor league players is around $20,000, although that may change with the recent negotiation between major league baseball and the minor leagues over a new bargaining agreement.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.