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MLB expects posting system for Japan's Shohei Ohtani will be ready by December

Major League Baseball hopes to establish an updated posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball by December, which would allow Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani to become the most prized free agent of the offseason. The Dodgers are considered a top candidate for his services.

The most recent agreement between the two leagues expired Nov. 1. After negotiations, Major League Baseball delivered the new framework for a deal to the MLB Players’ Union, which must approve the deal before it can be implemented.

Dan Halem, MLB’s chief legal officer, said he hoped discussions with the union would end within a week, allowing for the team’s 30 owners to vote on the new system.

“Once it’s approved, it will go in place,” Halem said at the general managers meetings at the Waldorf Astoria here. “I’m hopeful that we’ll have a new system in which players can be posted by the NPB in early December.”

Ohtani’s team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have pledged to post Ohtani this winter. By leaving Japan at 23, two years before the new collective bargaining agreement allows international free agents to recoup uncapped bonuses, Ohtani is willing to forgo a nine-figure contract in order to play in the majors.

The Dodgers can offer only a $300,000 bonus to sign Ohtani, in addition to the $20-million posting fee, but the largest bonuses available to Ohtani will be only a few million more.

Given their storied history, admirable track record with Japanese players, recent success and roster ingenuity, the Dodgers loom as one of the favorites to acquire Ohtani, who combines sizable slugging potential with a 100-mph fastball. He has chosen CAA to represent him.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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