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Shohei Ohtani’s path to MLB cleared after new posting agreement is reached before deadline

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Ohtani comin’!

Well, thank goodness this all worked out, am I right?

For months, it looked like a lock that Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani would be transferring to MLB for 2018. Everybody was excited, and we even started analyzing who would have the best shot at him and how his career might pan out in the US.

But then a snag occurred, and things started looking shaky. MLB’s posting system agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball expired, and a new one wasn’t put in place. Which is still fine! In previous years, that replacement didn’t get put in place until December, so the timeline still looked good for Ohtani’s transfer.

However, an open-ended timeline for a new posting system wasn’t to be because the MLBPA also needed to agree on the new system with Nippon Professional Baseball, and it set an arbitrary cutoff for Monday, Nov. 20th at 8 p.m. ET.

Commissioner Rob Manfred seemed unworried about the deadline and the possibility that Ohtani wouldn’t make it to an MLB team this year, which turns out was the right position to take, as an agreement is now in place, and Ohtani will more than likely be in an MLB uniform next year.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports this agreement will last for three years and will be ratified by the owners in 10 days. That means Ohtani can be posted by NPB as early as the end of next week. That means it’s time to get excited about Ohtani free agency for real. It’s time!

The new agreement, the rules of which will go into effect next offseason, will grant Japanese teams 20 percent of the value of a player’s contract if they sign a deal for less than $25 million. That includes Ohtani’s upcoming contract since he isn’t eligible for free agency this year. If the contract is worth $25-50 million, that percentage drops to 17.5 percent, and if it’s over $50 million, it goes down to 15 percent.

That addition to the agreement was a major negotiating point for NPB, as it has argued teams should get money beyond the posting amount as a way to more fully compensate teams that are losing one of their top players to MLB.

The Players Association shifted their negotiating deadline by 24 hours to see if talks would progress in a meaningful way, and that made all the difference. Negotiations came down to the wire to nail down final details, with discussions continuing as the business day started in Japan, according to Jon Morosi.

The important part of all this, besides Ohtani not having to hold off on his MLB dreams for another calendar year, is that the rest of us will get to watch the multi-talented player stateside next year — as long as something else doesn’t go wrong along the way.