Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani is reportedly set to be posted this winter, according to Yahoo! Japan.
Ohtani, 23, is one of Japan's top players, both on the mound and at the plate. Now in his fifth season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani has posted a 2.60 ERA through 522 1/3 innings and hit .286/.359/.505 with 47 homers and 163 RBIs in 389 games.
• Watch Ohtani unleash a totally unfair slider
Ohtani's move to United States this winter could cost him millions in contract negotiations as his age makes him subject to MLB's international signing rules. Those rules could allow teams with little available to spend to contend for the right-hander.
Ohtani was sidetracked this season by ankle and thigh injuries, but a recent return to the mound has generated intense interest among MLB scouts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was among the 32 MLB team officials -- from 16 different clubs -- in attendance at Ohtani's start on Tuesday, in which he threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
General managers Brian Cashman (Yankees) and Jon Daniels (Rangers) are among the high-level executives to evaluate Ohtani in person this season, according to reports.
The posting decision ultimately belongs to the Fighters. Manager Hideki Kuriyama told MLB.com in a preseason interview that the club would not stand in Ohtani's way if he chooses to pursue his dream of pitching in Major League Baseball.
Ohtani is expected to draw widespread interest from MLB clubs, but 12 teams are unable to pay him in excess of $300,000 this offseason, because of previous spending in excess of international amateur bonus pools. Those teams are the Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Astros, Royals, Athletics, Cardinals, Padres, Giants and Nationals, one source confirmed recently to MLB.com.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. MLB.com reporters Jesse Sanchez and Jon Paul Morosi also contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.