Ohtani rumors start to swirl as MLB approves Japan deal

NEW YORK (AP) — A person familiar with the decision says Major League Baseball owners have approved a new posting agreement with their Japanese counterparts in a move that allows bidding to start for coveted pitcher and outfielder Shohei Ohtani.

MLB owners voted Friday on the deal with Nippon Professional Baseball, and the unanimous decision to approve it was disclosed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with meeting. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

Ohtani was to be put up for bid later Friday by the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters for the maximum $20 million posting fee, starting a 21-day window for the 23-year-old to reach agreement on a contract with an MLB team. Under MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, Ohtani is limited to a minor league contract subject to a team’s signing bonus pool. The maximum bonus he could get is $3,535,000.

Ohtani was in Los Angeles, a person familiar with his location said. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.

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