Early on Friday morning, The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters announced that Shohei Ohtani has been allowed to come to Major League Baseball via the posting system. Ohtani, who has just completed his fifth season with the Fighters, has been the talk of the MLB over the past few seasons. Things are not official yet regarding Ohtani’s move, due to the difficulty regarding the rules governing the Japanese stars’ move.
The difficulties include the recent international free agent cap. Under the current MLB rules, teams only have a finite amount of money to spend on Ohtani due to him retaining his amateur status, and they are limited by their International spending pool. Some of the teams with the largest International pool space teams include The Rangers ($3.535MM), Yankees ($3.25MM), and Twins ($3.245MM).
Only a few teams are able to spend more than 1$MM and some teams can offer a great deal less. For example, the Mets are only able to offer 100,000$. With big-budget heavyweights only able to throw a marginal amount of money at Otani, there will be a number of other factors involved. Factors, like opportunities to hit, the possibility of large extension talks, and team location. All of these factors are likely to play a major role in how Ohtani will determine his next team.
The difficulty in the posting system is still being looked into by Ohtani’s former team, the MLBPA, and Rob Manfred. According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, “Major League Baseball and its Japanese counterparts have reached a tentative understanding to grandfather the now-expired posting system for one more year, clearing yet another hurdle to facilitate Shohei Otani coming to an MLB team this offseason.” But nothing is still official yet, and the MLB Players Association as still yet to comment on this agreement.
There are some still obvious hurdles until Ohtani officially makes it to the MLB. But, it is important to note that the Fighters have officially shown a formal commitment to allowing Ohtani to make his move to Major League Baseball. This is just the beginning, but it should be the start of a long, exciting move for the Japanese star.