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Japan legend Otani to be posted, likely to play in MLB next season

Highly touted Japanese pitcher-outfielder Shohei Otani will be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, according to Kyodo News, allowing him to sign with a major league team next season.

Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama says “everyone in our ballclub accepts his thoughts,” Kyodo reported Friday.

Otani is the reigning Pacific League MVP and is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA this year. Despite thigh and ankle injuries, he batted .332 in 65 games with 16 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs. He had ankle surgery last month.

He has a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 543 innings over five seasons, and a .286 batting average with 48 homers and 166 RBIs.

Otani is scheduled to hold a news conference Saturday in Tokyo, Kyodo said.

Because Otani has less than nine years of service time, Nippon Ham retains his rights and he must go through the posting system to leave.

If Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball agree to a deal that would extend the expired posting agreement through this offseason, the team that Otani signs with would pay the Fighters $20 million. Under MLB’s labor contract, his signing bonus is restricted and remaining pool money is limited to a high of $3,535,000.