Though the hurdles have been significant, it appears they've nearly all been cleared when it comes to Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani playing in Major League Baseball in 2018.
The last holdup had been an agreement between MLB, the MLB Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball when it comes to the posting system. That is, when an MLB team signs a player still under team control in NPB, the MLB team sends a "posting" fee to that NPB team. The fee used to be unlimited, but it has been $20 million the past several years.
Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the MLBPA has reached an agreement with NPB on the posting system on Tuesday. The final hurdle now becomes the MLB owners ratifying the agreement. They have 10 days to do so, per Sherman, meaning we could see Ohtani posted next Friday at the earliest.
Ohtani then has 21 days to sign after posting, per Sherman.
As for the new posting rules, this offseason has actually been grandfathered under the past rules, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. We'll then see new rules in effect for next offseason. As for the new rules, Sherman has the following:
Beginning next offseason Japanese clubs will get 20 percent of the value for a player who signs an MLB contract of less than $25M, 17 1-2 pct for $25M-$50M, 15 pct $50M-$100M. For $100M or more 1st $25M 20pct, next $25M 17 1-2 pct, anything above that 15 pct— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 21, 2017
Sorry, I made a mistake on the high end of posting fees to Japanese clubs beginning next year, for all contracts over $50M it is a 15 pct return for the NPB club. There is NO additional amendments for over $100M.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 21, 2017
This is a lot more friendly for MLB teams and players coming over from Japan.
The big news here is Ohtani is coming to the majors, though.
We know he was one of the best starting pitchers and hitters in NPB and he would like to continue doing both. He's also coming over earlier than he hit free agency or age requirements, so he's under the international signing bonus pool rules and can't really make more than in the neighborhood of $3 million. He's leaving hundreds of millions on the table for not waiting until the international spending rules don't apply any longer.
As such, this isn't about the money for Ohtani. Every team can make its pitch to him as to why he should join them. Once he's posted (likely) next Friday, it's on.