Read at ESPN.com
MLB teams have been willing to give big contracts to players coming from Japan and Korea this offseason, with a total spend of over $530 million. This is a significant change from just a few years ago when the market for these players was not as lucrative. One agent commented that if a player like Ichiro Suzuki, who signed a $14 million contract in 2001, were to join MLB today, he would likely sign for at least $150 million. The increased investment in these players is due to improved technology that allows teams to easily track and evaluate international talent.
"If he was coming over today, he'd sign for at least $150 million," one agent said. "Probably more."
The main factor driving the increased spending on players from Japan and Korea is the improved technology that allows teams to gather more information on players in international leagues. The competition in the Japanese and Korean leagues has also grown, making it more comparable to the level of play in the major leagues. This has provided teams with more certainty about the potential of these players. Previously seen as equivalent to the high minor leagues, the talent evaluation process has become more advanced, leading to a shift in the market for these players.
Improved technology The biggest change in talent evaluation since Ichiro signed his deal is simple: the ease of finding information on players in leagues across the world has improved.