The agreement, which was approved by MLB's Executive Council on Monday, could pave the way to the Majors for highly touted Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who led the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to a Japan Series championship over the Yomiuri Giants this year, and is the most sought after Japanese pitcher since Yu Darvish signed with the Rangers before the 2012 season. According to the press release, the protocols of the new system are comprised of these points.
• If an NPB club wishes to make one of its players available to Major League clubs, the NPB shall notify the Office of the Commissioner of the NPB player's potential availability and the "release fee" that a Major League club must pay to the NPB club in order to secure the NPB player's release. The NPB club may not set the release fee at an amount higher than $20 million and the fee cannot be changed once it has been set by the NPB club.
• The Office of the Commissioner shall then "post" the NPB player's availability by notifying all Major League clubs of the NPB player's availability and the release fee sought by the NPB club.
• All "postings" of NPB players must be made between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1.
• Beginning the day after the player is posted, and concluding 30 days later, any Major League club willing to pay the release fee set by the NPB club may then negotiate with the player in an attempt to reach an agreement on a contract.
• If a Major League club is able to reach an agreement on a contract with the posted NPB player, the Major League club must pay the NPB club the designated release fee, which will occur in installments, the timing of which depends on the size of the release fee.
• If the posted NPB player fails to reach an agreement with a Major League club, the release fee is not owed, the NPB player remains under reserve to his NPB club and the player may not be posted again until the following Nov. 1.
• The term of the new posting agreement is three years, continuing from year to year thereafter until either the Office of the Commissioner or the NPB gives notice of its intent to terminate the agreement 180 days prior to the anniversary of the commencement of the agreement.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.