MLB Free Agency Rumors: Yoshinobu Yamamoto ‘Open’ To Having Japanese Teammate

Aside from Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is arguably the top free agent available to sign this offseason. The 25-year-old was officially posted by the Orix Buffaloes on Monday and has already drawn interest from a slew of teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 24 games for the Buffaloes this year. The right-hander’s career in Japan ended with a third consecutive Eiji Sawamura Award, which is Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young.

It is believed that Yamamoto wants to pitch for a big-market team, and potentially one on the West Coast. Another report suggested that he prefers signing with a club that has a Japanese player.

However, agent Joel Wolfe clarified that Yamamoto having a Japanese teammate is not a necessity, via Alex Speier of The Boston Globe:

Traditionally, some Japanese players have preferred to be the lone Japanese star on an MLB team, so Yamamoto’s willingness opens up his market more and allows more teams to be interested in his services.

As it currently stands, the only big-market teams with a Japanese-born player are the Boston Red Sox (Masataka Yoshida), Chicago Cubs (Seiya Suzuki) and New York Mets (Kodai Senga). The San Diego Padres also have Yu Darvish and can’t be discounted from signing a big free agent.

The Dodgers roster at present does not feature any Japanese players, but they are considered the strong favorites to sign Ohtani. Even in the event they are able to land the two-way star, L.A. would still need to add at least two starting pitchers.

The Dodgers signing both Ohtani and Yamamoto is not out of the realm of possibility as they have the financial flexibility and need to make it happen.

When is the deadline for Yoshinobu Yamamoto to sign?

The deadline for Yamamoto to sign with a team is 2 p.m. PT on January 4, 2024.

The team that signs Yamamoto will be required to pay Orix a posting 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.

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!