Major League Baseball approves Japan deal, allowing Ohtani bidding to start

Shohei Otani pitches against South Korea during the Premier12 world baseball tournament at Tokyo Dome in 2015

MLB owners have approved a new posting agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan that allows teams to begin bidding for the 23-year-old phenom, the Associated Press reports.

Shohei Ohtani will officially be posted later Friday and will have until December 22 to reach an agreement with an Major League Baseball team.

Japanese media outlets reported Ohtani is now in Los Angeles, and he is expected to meet with Major League clubs as soon as next week.

The Cubs reportedly are among teams that have a high interest in Ohtani.

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In addition, MLB said Kazuhisa Makita, a 33-year-old right-hander on the Pacific League's Seibu Lions, will be posted by December 31. The union believes Japanese free agents entering the market late potentially could impact negotiations with major league free agents.

The 23-year-old ace/slugger should be courted by all 30 Major League Baseball teams, and whichever team lands him will have to pay the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee.

The Rangers now have the most global bonus pool money available ($3.535 million), followed by the Yankees ($3.5 million) and Twins ($3.07 million). Ohtani is limited to a minor league contract that depends on a team's worldwide signing bonus pool. He hit.332 in 65 games with 16 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs. For guaranteed contracts worth less than $25 million, the major league team will pay 20 percent of that value to the team in Japan.

Under baseball's labour contract that started last November 30, Otani is restricted to a minor league contract subject to signing bonus restrictions because he is under 25.

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