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Fighters grant Shohei Otani’s wish to pursue move to major leagues

Kyodo

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters said Friday they will allow Shohei Otani to use the posting system this offseason to try to land a deal with a major league team.

“Everyone in our ballclub accepts his thoughts,” Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama told a news conference at a Tokyo hotel concerning the 23-year-old two-way player’s intention to move to the big leagues.

Otani, who had ankle surgery last month and is currently going through rehabilitation, just completed his fifth season with the Fighters. The team told him during contract renewal negotiations last December that it is willing to approve the use of the system.

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball are negotiating revising the old posting system which expired Oct. 31, but The Associated Press reported earlier this week that the two sides have reached a tentative understanding to maintain it.

The posting system allows NPB players, who do not have the requisite nine years of professional experience to gain international free agency, to be put up for bidding by MLB teams.

Under the old posting rules, any MLB team interested in a posted Japanese player could offer up to $20 million for the right to negotiate with the player, with only the team that signs the player transferring the fee to the NPB team.

Because he is under 25 and treated like an amateur, Otani has to sign a minor league contract subject to signing bonus pools to enter MLB under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.