Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters officially announce they will post Shohei Ohtani this winter
"Everyone [on] our ball club accepts his thoughts," Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.
Ohtani, a righty pitcher and lefty batter, was bothered by a troublesome right ankle this past season, one he eventually underwent surgery on in October. The 23-year-old still hit .332 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 202 at-bats for the Fighters this past year, though, and was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA with 29 strikeouts in five starts on the mound - and that performance came on the heels of a 2016 that saw Ohtani lead the Fighters to both the Pacific League and Japan Series championships by hitting .322 with 22 homers and 67 RBI and going 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA in 21 pitching appearances.
Per MLB.com and FOX insider Jon Morosi, Ohtani's agency, CAA, will meet with the MLB Players' Association in the very near future. The news is also expected to ramp up negotiations between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball on a new posting compensation system; the previous one, which saw MLB teams required to pay a $20 million release fee to sign a posted player, expired on October 31, and negotiations on a new one have been stalled, although there have been recent reports that the two sides would simply extend the recently-expired agreement for one more year to accommodate Ohtani.
Part of the stalemate had been the Fighters' opposition to a plan that would see NPB teams receive a portion of the posted player's guaranteed money, a plan they disliked specifically because Ohtani will likely receive very little guaranteed money his first year.
As he is under 25, Ohtani is classified as an international amateur under the current Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement, so his signing bonus is restricted by the CBA's international bonus pool limitations; as such, his maximum guarantee for 2018 would likely be the remaining pool money of the team that signs him, plus the 2018 MLB minimum salary of $545,000.
The Yankees have the second-largest remaining pool of international bonus money for the 2017-18 signing period, and could offer Ohtani a $3.25 million bonus. The Texas Rangers are the only team who could offer more ($3.535 million) - meaning Ohtani is looking at a total guarantee of just north of $4 million maximum if he comes over - and Minnesota ($3.245 million) and Pittsburgh ($2.2 million) are the only other organizations with more than $2 million remaining in pool money.