Tony Barnette, who was posted on November 2, 2015 by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is on the radar of eight Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, according to a source.
The Swallows are asking for $500,000 in exchange for the negotiating rights of the reliever, as John E. Gibson of ONE World Sports reported. The eight MLB teams are unknown, but it seems like a team will bite and pay the fee, which would have to be accepted by the Swallows, to talk money with Barnette.
“The posting is a win-win situation for everyone involved, really,” Barnette told ONE World Sports. "If a team raises its hand and wants to sign me, I get my shot at pitching in the MLB. [A signing means] I don't leave Yakult -- which took chances on me early on, stuck with me through tough times on and off the field, and afforded me a place to grow and succeed as a ballplayer -- empty-handed."
“I’m extremely thankful for the Yakult organization and if/when I sign, [Yakult] gets a little cash to help it move forward as an organization. I want them to succeed as a baseball team -- it isn't easy leaving, but I felt it was the right time to challenge myself."
The 32-year-old was originally drafted in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a rough start in the Minor League Baseball (2006-2009), he made the jump to Japan in 2010.
Over four MiLB seasons, Barnette struggled with a 4.74 ERA over 97 appearances, which he accumulated 554.2 innings pitched. After a 5.79 ERA in the 2009 season for the Triple-A Reno, Barnette decided it was time for a change in scenery.
Barnette made his presence felt in the NPB immediately. In his debut for the Swallows, he tossed gave up three hits with 11 strikeouts over 7.0 innings pitched in a 1-0 victory..
The best season of his Minor League and Foreign career was last season. Barnette went 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA, 0.894 WHIP and 41 saves over 62.2 innings pitched. He gave up 0.1 home run per nine innings and allowed a career-best 5.3 hits per nine innings during 2015.
After 10 overall seasons, Barnette is looking to make the jump directly to the Major Leagues for the 2016 season. He has an impact arm that fashions the ability to finish games with authority, but he will have to earn the closers job.
“Probably right-handed relief of some sort,” Barnette said regarding his possible Major League role. “I think that's a good place to start. Obviously, I would be a rookie, and like I've said year after year with Yakult, wherever the team needs me, I'll take that job on and go at it with all I've got until I'm told otherwise."
If the Swallows accept a winning negotiation bid, the rights to talk about a contract with Barnette will last for 30 days. If both parties agree on a contract, the Swallows will keep the posting fee as compensation for their reliever.
“If I don't sign with an MLB team for whatever reason, I come back to Japan, most likely with the Swallows, if they'd still have me,” the relief pitcher mentioned regarding the possible situations at hand.