In a seismic move this winter, Japanese pitching sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto has reportedly agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources with knowledge of the negotiations informed USA TODAY Sports. While the deal is pending official confirmation, it is said to be an unprecedented 12-year contract valued at $325 million, complemented by an impressive $50 million signing bonus. This blockbuster signing follows the Dodgers’ earlier acquisition of Shohei Ohtani in a historic $700 million deal.
Choosing the Dodgers Over Yankees
Despite a competitive offer from the New York Yankees, who proposed a $300 million, 10-year deal, Yamamoto opted for the Dodgers as his next destination in professional baseball. Notably, Yamamoto’s contract diverges from Ohtani’s, featuring no deferred payments.
Yamamoto’s Dominance in Japan: Japanese Pitching
The 25-year-old right-hander has been a force to be reckoned with in Japan, representing the Orix Buffaloes. His remarkable ERAs of 1.39, 1.68, and 1.16 over the past three seasons have earned him three consecutive Pacific League MVPs and three Eiji Sawamura Awards, Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young, in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Stellar Career with Orix
Yamamoto’s tenure with Orix includes an impressive record of 75 wins and 30 losses, accompanied by a 1.72 ERA over seven seasons. His final appearance in Japan left a lasting impression, delivering a standout 138-pitch complete game with 14 strikeouts in Game 6 of the Japan Series, forcing a decisive Game 7.
Global Stage Presence: Japanese Pitching
Having participated in the 2023 World Baseball Classic with two appearances, during which he yielded only two earned runs with 12 strikeouts, Yamamoto is poised to make a significant impact on the MLB stage.
Negotiation Timeline and MLB Transition: Japanese Pitching
Posted by the Orix Buffaloes in November, Yamamoto entered a 45-day window for MLB teams to secure his signature, with the deadline set for January 4. Renowned for his high-90s fastball and elite-level splitter and curveball, Yamamoto’s command in Japan, averaging just 1.5 walks per nine innings in 2023, positions him well for the transition to MLB.
Challenges Ahead and Dodgers’ Anticipation: Japanese Pitching
As Yamamoto embarks on this new chapter, challenges include adapting to a different baseball (with lower seams in MLB) and transitioning to a revised pitching schedule, moving from weekly starts to pitching once every five games. Standing at 5-foot-10 and approximately 180 pounds, Yamamoto is on the smaller side for MLB starting pitchers. The Dodgers, known for their strategic signings, undoubtedly anticipate stellar performances from the Japanese standout in the coming years.