The Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) announced their intention to post Yoshinobu Yamamoto for MLB free agency this winter.
What has not yet been finalized is when Yamamoto’s posting window will begin. At that point, he will have 45 days to negotiate and sign with a team.
The Buffaloes nevertheless approved the posting step after losing to the Hanshin Tigers in Game 7 of the Japan Series. Although that was a disappointing finish to their season and Yamamoto’s NPB career, the star right-hander makes his way stateside on a strong note.
Yamamoto struggled in Game 1 of the Japan Series as he allowed seven runs on 10 hits over 5.2 innings of an 8-0 loss to the Tigers. However, Yamamoto bounced back with a stellar performance in Game 6 that helped Orix stave off elimination.
The ace collected 14 strikeouts and allowed just one run while throwing 138 pitches in a complete-game win. Yamamoto’s 16 strikeouts set a Japan Series record, breaking the mark of 13 that was held by Yu Darvish since 2007.
Overall this past season, Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 24 games.
The 25-year-old is expected to be among the most coveted free agents and may have a preference to play in a larger market.
Yamamoto has a four-pitch mix that is led by his mid-90s fastball that touches 99 mph. He utilizes a tight curveball, solid cutter, and perhaps his best pitch, a chase-inducing splitter.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto interest: Dodgers, Giants & more
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers are among the teams that have been connected to Yamamoto.
Bidding for the right-hander is expected to start around $200 million for six or seven years. The MLB record for a contract received by a pitcher leaving Japan is the $155 million deal Masahiro Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees in 2014.
Any team that signs Yamamoto will need 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.
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