Japanese Star Shohei Otani to Reportedly Be Posted by Nippon-Ham Fighters

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Japan’s Shohei Otani greets the umpire while coming to bat in the seventh inning of an international exhibition series baseball game against the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)
Toru Takahashi/Associated Press

Japanese baseball star Shohei Otani is reportedly set to take an important step toward an eventual Major League Baseball career.

On Thursday, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times cited Japanese news reports that said Otani's team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, announced it will post him this offseason. Otani is a pitcher and power hitter who is sure to draw the interest of a number of MLB teams this offseason now that he is set to be officially posted.

On Friday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted the posting was done without an agreement as to the current rules between the Japanese league and MLB, meaning it could be rescinded if Nippon wants more from the posting than the eventual deal allows.

The pursuit of Otani promises to be one of the most intriguing offseason storylines in part because of the financial situation.

Mike Oz of Yahoo Sports explained the Japanese star is apparently "willing to leave millions of dollars on the table" by coming over at age 23 instead of waiting until he is 25. That is because those under 25 fall under MLB's international bonus pool restrictions, capping what teams can offer him.

"If Otani were to wait until he turned 25, his MLB contract would easily be nine figures," Oz wrote. "Instead, he wants to prove himself at 23, so teams have to treat him the same way they would a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He'll get a signing bonus and the same standard contract any MLB draft pick or international free agent would."

According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press (h/t Yahoo Sports), the Texas Rangers can offer the biggest signing bonus at $3.535 million. The New York Yankees ($3.25 million) and Minnesota Twins ($3.245 million) can offer the next highest, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners are the only other teams that can offer seven figures.

Whichever team lands him will immediately bolster its pitching staff and perhaps its lineup as well.

Dayn Perry of CBS Sports provided a brief scouting report, noting Otani slashed .286/.358/.500 in five seasons with Nippon and posted an ERA of 2.52 with a fastball that can reach 100 mph, along with a "devastating slider" and "nasty splitter."