Dodgers Rumors: Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts & Shohei Ohtani Part Of Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s Free Agency Meeting

Having signed Shohei Ohtani to a record-breaking 10-year contract, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be focusing on starting pitching, with Yoshinobu Yamamoto among their top targets.

Shortly after the Orix Buffaloes posted Yamamoto for MLB free agency in November, he returned to Japan and spoke with teams virtually. Though, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns traveled overseas to have dinner with Yamamoto.

The right-hander narrowed down the list of teams that remained in the running and began meeting with them this week. The Dodgers were part of that as they welcomed Yamamoto to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

According to Fabian Ardaya and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Dodgers’ free agency pitch to Yamamoto included Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Ohtani being on hand:

Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. How’s that for a sales team to make their pitch to coveted Japanese free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

All three stars were present Tuesday for the Dodgers’ presentation to the right-hander at Dodger Stadium, according to multiple people familiar with the details of the meeting.

Will Smith attended the meeting with Yamamoto as well, per Russell Dorsey of Bally Sports:

Yamamoto and Ohtani have a friendship as fellow countrymen and playing together on Team Japan. Like Ohtani, Yamamoto is believed to view Betts in high regard.

The Dodgers are among multiple teams said to have a high level of interest in Yamamoto, who now is expected to sign a contract worth an estimated $300 million.

The Dodgers still have financial flexibility to sign Yamamoto thanks in large part to Ohtani deferring $680 million in his contract.

What Yoshinobu Yamamoto would mean for Dodgers

While signing Ohtani was certainly a watershed moment for the Dodgers, their starting rotation remains an area of need. Signing Yamamoto would give the team a frontline starter, both for the present and foreseeable future as he is just 25 years old.

Yamamoto ended his NPB career by winning both the Eiji Sawamura Award (equivalent to MLB’s Cy Young) and MVP three years in a row.

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