13 September, 2017
Otani could maximize his earning potential by waiting one more season to get out from under MLB's worldwide signing regulations, but it sounds like the 23-year-old is ready to make the move.
According to Thomas Lott of Omnisport (h/t Sporting News), Otani's team in Japan-the Nippon Ham Fighters-must post him and approve of his right to negotiate with an Major League Baseball team since he isn't eligible for free agency in Japan until following the 2021 campaign.
Japanese baseball star Shohei Otani will reportedly play Major League Baseball next season. The 23-year-old two-way superstar now boasts a.346/.416/.574 slash line over 51 games this season and holds a 2.60 career ERA over 522.1 innings in Nippon Professional Baseball. He finished last season with an OPS of 1.004. The assumption is that Otani would like to be both a position player and pitcher on a team in the majors, but it's unknown what teams - if any - would be willing to let this happen (and may require an owner supremely interested in selling tickets).
So instead of a bidding war, teams will have to make other kinds of pitches to Otani.
The rules, ratified early this year, mean that worldwide pros under the age of 25 are treated like amateurs and unable to sign lucrative free agent contracts.