As Yoshinobu Yamamoto is expected to be posted by the Orix Buffaloes in the coming weeks, the San Francisco Giants are among teams interested in the right-handed starter.
Yamamoto is on track to becoming the next star to join Major League Baseball after a stellar career in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). His 17-6 record, 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 9.3 strikeouts per nine in 171 innings across 24 games led the Buffaloes to the Japan Series for the third consecutive season.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has attempted to make a big splash in the Bay Area in recent years, but failed to sign both shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Aaron Judge to long term deals.
The 2021 Executive of the Year Award winner has an eye for talent, and recently made his own stop in Japan to get a first look at Yamamoto before he becomes available, per Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:
Zaidi was on hand at Kyocera Dome in Osaka on Wednesday to watch Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto start for the Buffaloes in Game 1 of their semifinal series against Chiba Lotte Marines, team and league sources confirmed.
The 25-year-old will be the most coveted player on the open market aside from two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, and it’s apparent that the Giants are using a lot of their recruiting resources to sign some of NPB’s top talents.
Yamamoto possesses an elite four-pitch mix, fronted by his mid-90s fastball, which touches 99 mph. He utilizes a tight curveball to both left- and right-handed hitters, a solid cutter, and perhaps his best pitch, a chase-inducing low 90 mph splitter.
The Giants have a plethora of space on their 2024 payroll, and an arm like Yamamoto is worth investing in over the course of a lengthy deal.
How could Yoshinobu Yamamoto help the Dodgers?
The Dodgers have been clear in their interest towards signing Yamamoto, specifically when president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman visited Team Japan prior to the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Los Angeles has a clear need at the top of their starting rotation, and Yamamoto would be a slam dunk option because of his sky-high potential.
Prior to signing with the New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole reportedly was offered an eight-year, $300 million deal to pitch on the West Coast. The willingness to offer such big money to a starter should be a welcomed sign that Friedman understands the value of elite pitching when a need is there.
Yamamoto features an explosive arsenal, which profiles as a frontend, ace. Now that the Dodgers are without Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw’s future is in a holding pattern, and Walker Buehler returning from Tommy John surgery, their cast of young arms is all they have.
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