This offseason has long been pegged as the time Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani would make the jump to MLB. The likelihood took a step back when the posting system expired and a snag emerged in talks on a new agreement.
The MLB Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball came to terms on a posting system, which would allow Ohtani to negotiate a contract with interested MLB clubs. However, the contract must first be ratified, which is expected to come Friday.
Ohtani is expected to then be posted within one or two days of that becoming official. In advance of potential contract talks, Ohtani sent a memo to all MLB clubs, asking for their presentations to include these factors, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter; Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities; Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities; Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation; A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization; Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play; Relevant marketplace characteristics
Ohtani finds himself in a unique situation as an international free agent. His talent would fetch upwards of a $200 million contract, but because he’s only 23 years old, Ohtani is bound by international bonus pool guidelines.
As such, the Los Angeles Dodgers are among several teams limited to offering a $300,000 signing bonus. Clubs that aren’t facing penalties for previously exceeding their bonus pools can offer a larger singing bonus, though the max would be $3.5 million from the Texas Rangers.
If Ohtani were to wait until he was 25 years old, he would be posted as a true free agent. The financial aspect is not an issue the impressive two-way star has been concerned with, however.
Considering the signing bonuses are all within a relatively small range, the memo teams received will aid Ohtani in paring down teams he’s interested in signing with. No matter the club he signs with, they would also owe $20 million to the Nippon Ham-Fighters as a posting fee.