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Mariners make trade, raise available money for Japan’s Shohei Otani

In this Nov. 12, 2016 photo, Japan's designated hitter Shohei Otani reacts after hitting a solo home run off Netherlands starter Jair Jurrjens in the fifth inning of their international exhibition series baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara / Associated Press)
In this Nov. 12, 2016 photo, Japan's designated hitter Shohei Otani reacts after hitting a solo home run off Netherlands starter Jair Jurrjens in the fifth inning of their international exhibition series baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara / Associated Press)
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners’ available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

The White Sox are restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because they exceeded their pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.

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