There’s been speculation and anticipation over the past few years of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani making the jump to Major League Baseball. When a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was put in place, it was believed Ohtani’s arrival would be delayed because of new restrictions on international free agents.
However, rather than wait a couple years to avoid facing limitations on potential earning power, the 23-year-old was said to be on track to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters this winter. It corroborated with Ohtani previously stating he wasn’t concerned about the cap on a contract with an MLB club.
While that may hold true, a new hurdle appears to have emerged. With the posting system having expired, it’s possible Ohtani will not reach the Majors in 2018 if a new agreement isn’t reached, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
Shohei Ohtani has not selected an agent yet. And there are some who believe it’s still possible he may not make the leap to MLB this year after all.
The posting system, which provided up to $20 million for Japanese League teams who offer up big stars, recently expired, setting up a standoff about how things should go from here. At least for now, there seems to be some question about what the posting fee is going to be, potentially throwing a major monkey wrench into Otani’s plans to come over from Japan.
Ohtani recently underwent ankle surgery that was expected to sideline him for three months but not impact a jump to the Majors. He completed a fifth season with the Fighters but was limited to just 63 games.
It was Ohtani’s fewest amount of games played since he appeared in 77 contests as a rookie in 2013. In addition to suffering from ankle injury throughout the year, Ohtani was also limited by a thigh issue.
As it presently stands, the new CBA has capped teams’ bonus pools between $4.75 million and $5.75 million. However some, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, are limited to $300,000 as penalty for previously exceeding pool limits.