The assumption was that Shohei Ohtani would be joining an MLB team this offseason. There were some hurdles to clear, though, like the lack of an updated posting system agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, and, of course, Ohtani's team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, had to agree to actually post the potential two-way star.
MLB and NPB agreed to grandfather in the posting system of old for another year, though, and now, the Fighters have made it official by revealing their intention to post their top player. Throw in that Ohtani has recently hired representation and is planning to meet with the MLBPA, and, well, he could be signing with a team stateside at any time.
Now, the real weirdness begins. Because Ohtani's bonus is subject to international spending limits, there are just a few teams that can offer him a bonus north of $1 million. So, does Ohtani gravitate toward one of the six teams with that much of a pool left -- the Rangers, Yankees, Twins, Pirates, Marlins, and Mariners -- or does the fact he's making a relative pittance compared to what he would have pulled in under the prior collective bargaining agreement open him up to signing where he wants with the knowledge that more money is coming down the road?
MLB will be watching to make sure no one signs Ohtani under international rules and then gives him a massive extension to circumvent said rules, but honestly, it's going to be hard to prove if that was a part of negotiations unless someone leaves a paper trail. Sign Ohtani, promise to extend him a year later, burn after reading. Let's get weird.
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