We’re now one step closer to Shohei Ohtani coming to the major leagues after the MLB Players Association signed off on a new posting system that was agreed to by MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.
Here’s what we need to know right now: For this offseason, last year’s posting rules will be in play, which means the Nippon Ham Fighters would receive the maximum posting fee of $20 million. Once posted, probably in the next two weeks, Ohtani is then eligible to negotiate with any team, but he is subject to the international bonus pool money available to each team. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available — $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees — while 12 teams are limited to a maximum of $300,000 (including the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros, Cardinals, Nationals and Royals). The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million to spend.
The money is what makes Ohtani’s situation different from the other Japanese stars to come over to the majors. Any team can afford the $20 million posting fee plus the small bonus, so the bidding won’t be limited to just the big-market teams. Under the international signing rules, if Ohtani had waited two more years until he turned 25, he wouldn’t be subject to the bonus pool caps, and given his 100 mph fastball and ability at the plate, he would receive a deal in excess of $100 million and likely close to $200 million.