Japan's Nippon-Ham Fighters announced early Friday morning that they will post star player Shohei Ohtani this offseason, according to Japanese reports.
"Everyone [on] our ballclub accepts his thoughts," said Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.
While the move was expected, it was a major step in the process for the 23-year-old phenom to come to the Major Leagues.
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Ohtani's representatives at Creative Artists Agency, a Los Angeles-based group, are slated to meet with the Major League Baseball Players Association in the coming days, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Wednesday.
Neither MLB nor the MLBPA has commented on the negotiations, per Morosi, but the expectation is that once the meeting occurs, the wheels will be set in motion on a posting agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, where Ohtani has become a star. The old posting agreement between MLB and NPB expired on Oct. 31.
Morosi notes sources involved in the negotiations are "optimistic" Ohtani's request may help the sides develop a new posting system altogether for players making the move from Japan to MLB.
• Sources: MLBPA to meet with Ohtani's agency
Many talent evaluators with MLB teams believe Ohtani -- a right-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter -- can star in the Majors as early as next year, on the mound and in the batter's box. But until MLB and NPB reach a new posting agreement, there's no mechanism for his team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, to make him available to MLB clubs.
As first reported by MLB Network Insider Joel Sherman, negotiations stalled on the question of how Japanese clubs should be compensated when MLB teams sign their players through the posting process. Under the previous system, MLB clubs paid Japanese teams a release fee of up to $20 million.
MLB and NPB had made progress on a new agreement under which the NPB club would receive a percentage of the player's guaranteed contract. The Fighters, though, have withheld their support for that concept since Ohtani, 23, is very likely to sign for less than $5 million -- and possibly less than $1 million -- because of bonus limitations in the Collective Bargaining Agreement on international players under 25 years old.
Ohtani hit .332 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 202 at-bats over 65 games for the Fighters in 2017. He also went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA with 29 strikeouts in five starts as a pitcher. His play was limited by an injury to his right ankle, which he underwent surgery on in October.