If slugging ace pitcher Shohei Otani does move to the majors next winter via the posting system, he cannot expect to earn more than $12 million through 2020, a Major League Baseball source said Wednesday.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement — which has yet to be ratified by either MLB’s owners or the players union — Otani will be treated under the same rules as an untested 17-year-old amateur.
“The CBA supersedes our agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball,” the source, familiar with MLB’s new labor deal, told Kyodo News.
The new CBA puts caps on overseas amateurs and pros under the age of 25. Under the previous agreement, Otani would have been treated as a professional next winter with many insiders expecting Japan’s premier star to fetch a deal in excess of $200 million at the age of 24.
Perhaps the most exciting baseball player in the world, Otani just concluded a deal for 2017 with the Nippon Ham Fighters worth 270 million yen (roughly $2.37 million).
He could move to MLB next year for a maximum possible signing bonus of just over $10 million and a seven-year minor league contract.
If he is promoted to the majors on Opening Day in 2018 and stays there, his minimum salary over his first three seasons would total less than $2 million.
After that, he would be eligible for arbitration and could become a major league free agent — and able to earn major league money — after the 2023 season.
Otani, who turned 22 in July, posted a career low 1.86 ERA last season with a 10-4 record in 21 games. The Pacific League’s MVP batted .322 with 22 homers, 54 walks and seven steals from his 382 plate appearances despite playing in Japan’s tougher league in a huge pitchers’ park.
He was named his league’s best pitcher and its best designated hitter in the postseason Best Nine Awards.
“He (Otani) is an amateur until he’s 25 and with six years,” the source said. “This wasn’t Otani specific. We never discussed him. That’s the way the rules work. Unless the rules are changed that’s the way it will work.”
“We haven’t had a player come over from Japan since Tanaka. Cubans are the main players coming over. We have a lot of them. The majority of the international players are Cubans. Otani wasn’t discussed at all.”