Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball had a “tentative agreement” in place to allow the Nippon Ham Fighters to post Shohei Ohtani — a lauded pitcher and hitter — for $20 million. However, the players’ union is challenging the system, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports, which will delay Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball until the matter can be resolved.
The union is challenging future terms for the 2018-2020 seasons. The $20 million that would be posted for the right to negotiate with Ohtani would go to his current team, the Fighters. Due to current rules under the collective bargaining agreement, Ohtani would only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million. Understandably, the union is concerned about this inequality, despite having agreed to the current terms regarding international players.
According to one of Heyman’s sources described current talks as at a “standstill.”
A management source said, “The union is holding up the posting agreement. The union is making demands.” Which is, of course, something someone on the side of management should be expected to say, so it actually provides zero insight.
As Heyman notes, if Ohtani waits two years to come to the MLB instead, he can make significantly more guaranteed money. He currently makes approximately $3 million per year with Nippon Ham.
The union is doing what it’s designed to do: advocating on behalf of its players. It would have been better if the union had prioritized this issue more during negotiations for the current CBA, but it can’t necessarily cover everything. As expected, the framing of this issue is such that the union is painted as preventing baseball from getting a superstar talent. In the end, though, it’s better for Ohtani and all international players who move to the U.S. after him if the union deliberates this issue now rather than sets a precedent for MLB and NPB ownership to receive a windfall each time a player is posted.