2:53pm: FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that, unsurprisingly, the Fighters will set the posting fee for Ohtani at the $20MM maximum. However, while MLB will sign off on the deal, Heyman notes that the Players Association still has some issues to work through before it will also sign off. Among their concerns, per Heyman, is the fact that the Fighters will recoup $20MM for Ohtani while the player himself stands to be paid only a mere fraction of that amount.
Heyman doesn’t suggest that the Union’s concerns will necessarily jeopardize Ohtani’s ability to make the jump to the Majors or that they could lead to a significant alteration in the current structure of the posting system. It’s unclear when the MLBPA will ultimately sign off, but it seems that their trepidation could delay the process to some extent.
That does not quite make things official, as Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball continue to try to sort out the rules that will govern the move. The effort had come into some notable difficulties, though Ohtani’s decision to hire a MLB Player’s Association-certified agent was expected to . And it seems the two leagues, at least, have reached agreement on a framework that could help facilitate Ohtani’s move — so long as his representatives, the MLBPA, and the Fighters are all on board.
At a minimum, today’s news seemingly formalizes the Fighters’ commitment to allowing Ohtani to depart. “Everyone in our ballclub accepts his thoughts,” said Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama. That also figures to ratchet up the expectations and the pressures on all other interested parties, helping to maintain momentum toward a finalization of talks — which will only represent the beginning of what could be a fascinating process.
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None of the talks will address Ohtani’s own earning capacity, which will be quite slight — at least on his way into the league. That’s the major reason that he promises to be the most widely pursued player ever to hit the open market. With only a few clubs even able to offer him more than $1MM in a bonus, the decision will surely come down to other factors, the precise nature of which — hitting opportunities? geography? comfort? promotional opportunities? promises of a future extension? — remain to be learned.
*Astute readers will note that MLBTR has now adopted a new spelling. Previously, for a variety of reasons, we utilized the anglicization “Otani.” We have now confirmed, however, that the spelling “Ohtani” is the formal spelling likely to be utilized in his potential transition to the majors.