A fairly significant development in the Shohei Ohtani saga.
MLB has “reached a tentative understanding” with Japan’s top league, NPB, on a one-year extension of the posting system that expired last month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
This is important because MLB and NPB had discussed a new posting system that would have been a significant disadvantage in the case of Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar expected to come to North America this winter, and could have complicated his departure from Japan. Under that proposal, Japanese teams would receive a percentage—15% to 20%, Sherman reports—of their players’ contract value instead of a lump sum posting fee of up to $20 million.
The percentage system would have been a blow to Ohtani’s current team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, who would have received a relative pittance because Ohtani, at 23, is too young to be a true free agent. If he were to hit the open market, as he could at age 25, he would command in excess of $200 million. Instead, he will be treated the same as a teenager signing out of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Ohtani will have to sign a minor-league contract with a signing bonus limited by the amount of international bonus pool money each suitor has to offer. The Rangers ($3.535 million) have the most to offer, according to the Associated Press, followed by the Yankees ($3.25 million).
The complicating factor, according to Sherman, is whether the MLB Players Association will agree to extend the old posting agreement given that it will pay the Fighters significantly more than Ohtani himself will be paid.
Ohtani, though, as Jon Wertheim wrote in April for SI, is not overly concerned with money. He lived frugally in the team dorms despite being its star player. So even if the Yankees and Rangers can offer him the most money, and the Dodgers and Cubs can only offer a $300,000 bonus, Ohtani might not be discouraged from signing for cheap.