Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and the Japanese NPB baseball league agreed to extend the posting system for one more season before a new three-year deal goes into effect after next season, reports The New York Post's Joel Sherman. The extension still must be ratified by MLB owners by next Friday.
The agreement means that Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star who is expected to transition to the major leagues this season, could be posted for bidding as early as next Friday or Saturday. Once Ohtani is posted, he will have 21 days to sign with an MLB team, according to Sherman.
The posting system will only guide this offseason's signings of Ohtani and pitcher Kazushisa Makita, per Sherman.
Under the posting system, a Japanese team that loses a player to MLB is paid a one-time lump-sum of up to $20 million. Given Ohtani's status as one of the Japan's best players, his team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, will receive a $20 million posting fee.
The new deal, which will go into effect after the 2018 season if it is ratified by owners, states that Japanese teams will receive a percentage of the contract a departing player signs with an MLB team. Per Sherman, if the deal is worth less than $25 million, the Japanese team will receive a fee equal to 20% of the contract; if the deal is between $25 million-$50 million, the Japanese team receives a 17.5% fee; if the deal is over $50 million, the Japanese team will receive a 15% fee.
The extension of the posting agreement is a financial victory for the Nippon-Ham Fighters because at 23 years old, Ohtani is not eligible to sign a free-agent contract. If he were available on the free market, as Masahiro Tanaka was when he signed a $155 million contract with the Yankees in 2013, Ohtani would likely command close to $200 million. In that case, the Fighters would have preferred the new system as they'd stand to earn close to $30 million (15% of a potential $200 million deal).
But given Ohtani's youth, he is considered an international prospect and not an international free agent, so the rules guiding his signing are the same for signing a teenager out of, say, 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 a team has. The Rangers ($3.535 million) have the most to offer, according to the Associated Press, followed by the Yankees ($3.25 million).
If the new system had gone into effect for this offseason, while Ohtani is still considered an international prospect, the Fighters would have been paid just 20% of a minor league deal—far less than the $20 million they'll now receive under the posting system.