According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Rakuten Eagles may decide on whether to post Masahiro Tanaka or not by Christmas. This accommodates Tanaka's schedule as he has to travel all over for events and appearances. At that point we will know once and for all what's going to happen; does he come to MLB for the 2014 season, or does he stick around in Japan for another year or even until he achieves full free agency?
There are various factors in play with this decision (keeping in mind the new posting agreement is just for three years and could change dramatically depending on what NPB thinks and what MLB is willing to give up). Firstly, is it worth it from Rakuten's standpoint, both in terms of economics and politics with Tanaka, to post Tanaka after all? I don't really have the answer to that. My guess is that there are plenty of talented Japanese athletes who may eventually want to try their hand at MLB's minor league system and bypass NPB altogether, but the cultural pressure to stay within Japanese baseball is very strong and something I don't completely understand. Also, very few Japanese players ever get noticed enough to earn insane bid amounts anyway, and even fewer would have the incentive to bypass relatively robust guaranteed salaries to come to MLB and slog through the minors.
Secondly...how does this posting situation affect the relationship between MLB and NPB? I don't think it's any stretch to say that NPB talent, overall, is inferior to MLB, but NPB also doesn't want to be treated like a minor league system. So there is a respect factor that needs to be addressed as MLB probably doesn't want to be cut off from that talent pool, even if most of the players in said talent pool aren't at the caliber of a Yu Darvish or Ichiro Suzuki (in his prime).
Thirdly...now that they've suggested they ARE going to make a decision, it seems that some MLB clubs have already taken themselves out of the equation. The Yankees have tried incredibly hard to stay under the luxury tax cap, but I think they're going to go over it especially if Alex Rodriguez isn't suspended and if they elect to sign some other guys. The signing of Shin-Soo Choo probably takes the Rangers out of it as well. The Cubs will likely have some money to play with (they haven't exactly spent much, not that they SHOULD, mind you) and we don't know how many other clubs have a secret Tanaka stash lying around just for this purpose. My guess is that the Cubs will have the Dodgers to deal with, maybe the Mariners (who suddenly decided they wanted to spend stupid money), and perhaps the Yankees if they do decide "screw it" and blast through the luxury tax threshold. The question becomes whether the Cubs can outbid the handful of potential suitors for Tanaka's services. But if they pulled some money out of the air to sign Edwin Jackson, maybe they do have a secret stash to make Tanaka a Cub.
I guess we'll have something else to look forward to Christmas morning.