Dodgers Rumors: Andrew Friedman ‘Really Interested’ In NPB Pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto

The 2023 World Baseball Classic begins in a little more than two weeks, and among the favorites to win the championship is Team Japan. The country’s official roster includes Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, as well as many other stars in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

The Orix Buffaloes’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto is also part of Team Japan’s pitching staff, and he may just be one of the most talented starters in the entire tournament.

The 24-year-old is coming off a 2022 season that saw him go 15-5 with a 1.68 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 193 innings pitched en route to winning the Eiji Sawamura Award.

Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently visited Team Japan and reportedly is interested in signing Yamamoto if/when he becomes available, per Joseph Kim:

According to multiple reports, MLB teams are under the impression that the Buffaloes will post Yamamoto following the 2023 season. Some scouts believe he is capable of being a No. 1 starter in the Majors and will command a contract that could approach $150 million in total value.

Yamamoto boasts a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper-90s, and an above average splitter and curveball. The right-hander made his professional debut as an 18-year-old in 2017 and has averaged 7.1 innings per start since the 2021 season.

If Yamamoto is indeed posted by the Buffaloes at the end of the year, all 30 teams will be permitted to negotiate with him. However, the team that signs him will need to pay Orix a fee that is equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25 million, 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any additional dollars.

Yamamoto potentially making the jump to the big leagues next year coincides with Ohtani also on track to become a free agent. The Dodgers are expected to be one of the two-way star’s biggest suitors if he does reach the open market.

Dodgers participating in 2023 World Baseball Classic

The Dodgers will be represented by eight players from their 40-man roster in the 2023 WBC, with Mookie Betts and Will Smith suiting up for Team USA, Austin Barnes and Julio Urías competing with Team Mexico, David Peralta and Miguel Rojas playing with Team Venezuela, Freddie Freeman participating for Team Canada, and Trayce Thompson joining Team Great Britain.

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