Among the many hurdles to 23-year-old Japanese ace/slugger Shohei Otani ever being a member of the Chicago Cubs, there’s an obvious preliminary hurdle: he has to actually first be posted by his NPB team.
To that end, the posting agreement that previously governed these transfers recently expired between MLB and NPB, and as we discussed, that was a serious problem for Otani’s current NPB team. If they weren’t going to get at least the $20 million they got under the old agreement, they weren’t inclined to let Otani go.
Well, Joel Sherman reports that the sides have tentatively agreed to a one-year stay of sorts, where the old posting system would be used for Otani this offseason. If the Players Association agrees to let that plan go forward, it sounds like Otani will be coming.
If *that* happens, the next step will be the biggest one of all: what exactly does Otani want in his next team? Under the IFA rules, he can sign for only a maximum of about $3.5 million from the Rangers or Yankees (the interested teams with the most available to spend), or would he be willing to take $300,000 from a penalty-boxed team like the Cubs (or the Dodgers or Giants, each of which Sherman lists as teams expected to be “eager pursuers”)?
And if Otani DOES sign this offseason, how soon will MLB allow him to sign an extension without believe it was a circumvention of the IFA rules?
This is fascinating stuff for a uniquely talented player, who is arguably worth $200 million on the open market. Here’s hoping he gets fully cleared to come, and the Cubs figure out a way to get creative.