The most frenzied pursuit of a free agent in MLB history is underway. Shohei Ohtani, the 23-year-old two-way superstar known (without much hyperbole) as Japan’s Babe Ruth, is coming to North America this winter—and all 30 MLB teams have a reasonable chance to sign him.
In advance of the posting, Ohtani’s representatives asked MLB teams to make their pitches to him by filling out a questionnaire.
Teams will have 21 days to reach a deal with Ohtani once he’s been posted, so the sweepstakes will be wrapped up by Christmas. Follow the latest updates below.
• MLB owners have ratified the new posting agreement with Japan’s NPB, meaning Ohtani can officially be posted. (MLB.com)
• The Yankees will “leave no stone unturned” in their pursuit of Ohtani, GM Brian Cashman says. (New York Post)
• This MLB.com interview with Ohtani from February won’t make Phillies fans happy. (NESN)
• The trade the Angels made to acquire international bonus pool money (and reliever Jim Johnson) was done with the goal of having more money to offer Ohtani, GM Billy Eppler said. (Orange County Register)
• The Indians like Ohtani but are unlikely to land him. (Cleveland.com)
• “We definitely would be interested in getting him,” Reds GM Dick Williams said. “He is a talent.” (MLB.com)
• Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, speaking on his new podcast, said his team will “actively pursue” Ohtani. (Seattle Times)
Ohtani’s arrival was complicated by the expiration of MLB’s posting agreement with Japanese clubs. The MLB players union agreed to a new system last week, though, and owners are set to vote to make it official on Friday. Once that happens, Ohtani’s current team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, can post him. He will be included under the previous posting agreement, which requires the posting team to be paid a fee of at most $20 million.
The posting fee is by far the greatest expense Ohtani’s future MLB team will be responsible for. Because he is under the age of 25, Ohtani will be subject to MLB’s international free agent rules. He will have to sign a minor-league contract with a signing bonus limited by the amount of international bonus pool money each team has to offer.