After a ratification agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, Japanese star Shohei Ohtani was officially posted to all 30 Major League clubs on Friday afternoon.
Last week, Ohtani’s representatives sent a memo to each team, asking how they would utilize the once-in-a-generation player should he sign with them.
Japanese media outlets have reported that Ohtani is already in Los Angeles and plans to meet with interested teams as early as next week. A new tidbit was discovered on Friday, however, when multiple executives revealed that Ohtani may prefer to sign with a club that lacks a Japanese star.
While Ohtani’s camp hasn’t commented on the matter, that bit of news doesn’t bode well for two major pursuers in the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
The Los Angeles Dodgers boasted two of the league’s best Japanese pitchers in Yu Darvish and Kenta Maeda during the World Series, but the former is expected to depart in free agency. The Yankees, meanwhile, have featured Masahiro Tanaka at the top of their rotation since the 2014 season.
Ohtani is a supreme talent in the form of a two-way player. As a hitter, he owns a career slash line of .286/.358/.500 in 1,170 plate appearances, with 70 doubles, 48 home runs and 166 RBI. On the mound, he has pitched to a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 543 career innings with 624 strikeouts — good for a 10.3 strikeouts per nine ratio.
Should a team sign Ohtani, the posting fee of presumably $20 million would then be paid to the Nippon-Ham Fighters. As it stands, he likely will not receive a signing bonus larger than $5 million. In the Dodgers’ case, they’re limited to offering a $300,000 bonus because of exceeding their international bonus pool in the previous signing period.
The Texas Rangers have the most to offer him at $3.535 million, although he could open himself up to better marketing opportunities if he were to sign with a team like the Dodgers or Yankees.
Ohtani has to be signed within 21 days of being posted, so a resolution on what team he will be playing with come 2018 will come before 8:59 p.m. PT on Dec. 22.