Let the bidding begin.
After the deadline on negotiations for a new posting system between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball was extended, a tentative agreement was reached on Tuesday night which will effectively allow 23-year-old Japanese phenom, Shohei Ohtani, to make the jump to the major leagues this winter, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post.
Pending ratification of the agreement from MLB owners, the new posting system will be in place after the 2018 season. For now, MLB will follow the old system, meaning that any team who wants Ohtani must post a $20 million fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters to negotiate with him. Only the team that signs him will have to pay that amount.
It’s worth noting that money isn’t Ohtani’s endgame, otherwise he would have waited two more years to become a free agent. Since he’s not yet 25 years old, he falls under the international pool rules, meaning he can receive a signing bonus between $10,000-$3.535 million. The Yankees can offer $3.5 million, with the Rangers only slightly higher at $3.535 million.
According to Sherman, the Players Association also set a 21-day negotiation period for Ohtani, wanting to get him off the board so free agency around the sport can begin in earnest. Therefore, with ratification of the new system a formality and expected by next Friday, Ohtani will be posted shortly after and could be signed before December is over.
According to Sherman, the new three-year posting agreement begins on Nov. 1, 2018:
A Japanese team would receive 25 percent of a signing bonus if one of its players agrees to a minor league pact with an MLB club.
If a player signs a major league contract, a Japanese team will receive 20 percent of the total of the contract plus all earned bonuses, buyouts on unexercised options and full amount of option years on guarantees up to $25 million, 17.5 percent of deals between $25 million and $50 million, and 15 percent for any pact over $50 million. Thus, if a player signed a $100 million deal, his Japanese club would receive $15 million. Having a higher percentage for under $25 million – up from 15 percent – was a key compromise to get NPB to agree to this tentative new deal.
In this phase of the accord, players must be posted between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5, and after posting will have a 30-day window to sign.
The Yankees are widely viewed as the favorites to land the “Japanese Babe Ruth.” Ohtani’s versatility as an outfielder and as a pitcher would be a welcome addition on a Yankees team that’s already youthful and ready to compete for championships. Hideki Matsui has said that he’s expecting to be involved in any negotiations that may take place. However, Ohtani has not yet said where he prefers to play.
Regardless, the hot stove is about to heat up exponentially.