But while they certainly didn't want to, they really didn't have a choice.
Since Ma-kun was the first big name wanting to post after the new agreement, Rakuten couldn't send the message I laid out in my prior post. Doing so had the possibility of undermining the NPB pipeline faster than it possibly already is.
But as a result, they will get much less for a player who certainly was the most integral in giving the "expansion" team their first Japan Series. And now losing him means that their attempt to make a repeat bid will be severely hurt by the loss. Perhaps HS strikeout phenom Matsui Yuuki (Toukou Gakuen) drafted this year will offset the loss, but it may take a couple of years to get him into the superstar status that Ma-kun reached. In the meantime, other teams can catch up and Rakuten's window may close.
It sucks that of all the teams that had to take the hit, it would have to be Rakuten. I'd be more fine with it if it was a team like Yomiuri - but for a team like Rakuten trying to gain a foothold in the league, it really is unfortunate.