When the Orix Buffaloes posted Yoshinobu Yamamoto for MLB free agency, it gave teams an opportunity to begin negotiating with a 25-year-old pitcher who many believe could be a staff ace.
Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Aaron Nola largely made up a shallow market of available frontline starters. Nola drew interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers and other teams, but quickly re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a seven-year, $172 million contract.
Sonny Gray followed that by joining the St. Louis Cardinals on a three-year, $75 million deal.
As for Yamamoto, widespread interest is potentially could result in signing for $300 million, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post:
Japanese starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto may be the most popular free agent ever — at least among big-market clubs — and that’s why execs are predicting he may cost the signing team as much as $300 million, including the posting fee.
Original projections had Yamamoto signing with an MLB team for an estimated $200 million.
Yamamoto’s agent, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman, said his client had received more interest at the outset of free agency than any player he could remember.
Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 24 starts for the Buffaloes this year. He won a third consecutive Eiji Sawamura Award, which is Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young, and Yamamoto ended his career in Japan by winning three MVP Awards in a row.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Dodgers, New York Mets, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants are among the teams that have been linked to the right-hander.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto free agency timeline
Yamamoto has a 45-day posting window to negotiate with teams and sign a contract during free agency. He faces a deadline of 2 p.m. PT on January 4, 2024.
The Giants were recently identified as possibly having taken a lead in the Yamamoto sweepstakes, but the Yankees reportedly have expressed a belief they are the favorite.
With the Winter Meetings coming to a close, Yamamoto is expected to begin sitting down with teams next week.
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