Japanese MVP Shohei Otani is expected to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters and play in major league baseball in 2018, according to multiple reports.

Otani previously said in December, when he signed a one-year, $2.37 million contract with the Fighters, that he could move to MLB after the 2017 season.

The 23-year-old right-hander, who also has shown great potential as a hitter, will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. He needs the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

"We discussed the possibility of me going," he said in December. "The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Because of new restrictions under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated last fall, Otani would stand to make more money if he waited a couple of years to move to MLB. Otani's max contract would be limited to $10.1 million, well below the $150 million or so he would receive if he waited until he was 25 to come to MLB.