Talks regarding changes to the Japanese player posting system have hit a snag

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We heard more details on proposed changes to the Japanese player posting system earlier this week, but it’s not a done deal yet. In fact, Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer, indicated today that an agreement is not close.

Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com has the details from Orlando, Florida:

“What I would tell you is that we made a proposal to the Japanese,” Manfred said at the end of the year’s final quarterly Owners Meetings. “When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they have not been able to do that.”

MLB waited several weeks for approval of its proposal by Japanese baseball officials, but sentiment among a growing number of Major League owners has turned to ending the posting system entirely.

“In today’s meeting there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal we made to them,” Manfred said. “It sat out there for a long time. They couldn’t give us an answer and we’re going to have to go back to them and talk to them about where we are right now.”

According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, the snag isn’t from the Japanese side of things, but rather that small market MLB teams want the posting fee for players to count toward the luxury tax. This would be relevant to the Yankees and their goal to stay under $189 million in payroll next season, as they are expected to be one of the highest bidders on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka when he’s posted this winter. However, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News points out, this would require reopening the collective bargaining agreement to change the rules. And that’s not going to happen.

It should be noted that both Waldstein and Feinsand expect that something will eventually be worked out and that Tanaka will be posted at some point this winter, but it will be interesting to see if the timing of the posting will have an impact on offseason plans. Putting all of your eggs in the Tanaka basket could be risky once significant free agent starting pitchers begin to come off the board.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.