The Nippon Ham Fighters will likely post Shohei Otani after the 2017 season. This means that MLB clubs can pay a maximum amount of $20 MM for the right to negotiate with the player. If both parties do not agree on a contract within a month, the player will return to Japan and the money will be paid back to the MLB club.
According to Yahoo.co.jp the Fighters have accepted that Otani wants to look for greener pastures at the other side of the Pacific Ocean. The current Japanese champion tried to start contract negotiations with their star player, also named the Babe Ruth of Japan, but it became clear that Otani wants to try his luck with an MLB club.
Otani is quite a unique player as he is one of the few pitchers that can hit well. More often than not he is used as DH by the Fighters on days that he is not pitching.
Two weeks ago, during a friendly match vs Kingdom of the Netherlands, Otani hit the ball through the roof of the Tokyo Dome, which was called a ground rule double.
The posting process is as follows (from Wikipedia):
When a player under contract with a Nippon Professional Baseball team wishes to play in Major League Baseball, he must notify his current team’s management and request that they make him available for posting during the next posting period (November 1 – March 1 through the 2013 season, and November 1 – February 1 in the current agreement).
The NPB team can reject this request, and the player will not be posted. However, if the team consents, the player is presented to the MLB Commissioner, who then notifies all MLB teams of the posted player.
Under the current process, when the NPB team notifies the MLB Commissioner of a posting, it also sets the posting fee, which is now capped at a maximum of $20 million. Once the MLB Commissioner announces the posting and the fee, the player has 30 days to sign with an MLB team. Unlike the past system, in which only the team that won the bidding process had negotiating rights, the current system allows the posted player to negotiate with any MLB team willing to pay the posting fee. As in the previous process, if the player signs with an MLB team during the negotiating window, the signing team will pay the posting fee; otherwise, his rights revert to his NPB team. Also mirroring the past system, an unsuccessfully posted player can request a posting in a later year, with the process repeated.
The move comes as a surprise since Otani is still under control of the Nippon Ham Fighters for the coming five years. If the Fighters will post him in the 2017/2018 off season, he will be the youngest player from Japan ever to be posted as he has just turned 22. In the four years that he played in the NPB, Otani posted a 37-13 record and hit a total of 34 homeruns with a career BA of .276. Last season his batting average jumped from .202 to .360.
But it looks like while his batting is improving, his pitching is a bit on the decline. In the 2014 and 2015 season, Otani managed to win more than ten games but in the past season he only won eight out of seventeen starts.