The MLBPA, MLB, and NPB need to sort out a new posting system in the next few days, or Ohtani isn’t coming over for 2018.
Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball agreed to grandfather the old posting system for one more year, in order to allow Shohei Ohtani to come over to MLB this offseason. The thing is, no one asked the Players Union how they felt about that plan. According to Jon Heyman, the MLBPA has now set a deadline of Monday to figure out a new posting agreement, or else, Ohtani isn’t going to be able to come to MLB in 2018.
It turns out that the Players Union is not enthused about the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s current team, receiving a $20 million posting fee while Ohtani will be paid, at most, $3.53 million (and very likely, much less) as a signing bonus. Granted, this situation exists in part because the MLBPA negotiated away Ohtani’s rights in the last collective bargaining agreement before he even agreed it was time to be posted, but now they’re trying to rectify it, at least a little bit.
The MLBPA will likely attempt to make posted players from NPB a different situation than other international free agents, or, they’ll attempt to make it so that MLB cannot punish a team for making promises of a later extension and significant pay raise(s) part of negotiations with Ohtani’s camp. Whether MLB’s owners will be into that idea is unknown, but chances are good they won’t be thrilled about the possibility of spending more of their money on a talent who hasn’t been in MLB before.
NPB’s owners will likely have little issue with any changes to the system like the above, since their teams will get $20 million either way: they might, however, ask for more than $20 million as the maximum posting fee if it looks like Ohtani is going to get a paltry signing bonus but then sign a deal for much more total money than the Nippon Ham Fighters will receive from his new team.
And if the three can’t come to an agreement by Monday’s deadline? Then we won’t see Ohtani in MLB in 2018. That might put any chance of him making it over in 2019 less likely, too, as he would then be one season away from coming to MLB as a true free agent, capable of signing without restrictions.