For all the attention and interest Shohei Ohtani has garnered in free agency, not far behind is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a 25-year-old who many consider an ace-caliber pitcher.
Yamamoto has been posted by the Orix Buffaloes with having won three consecutive Sawamura Awards — Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) equivalent of the Cy Young. The right-hander has also won three league MVP Awards in a row.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are among the teams that have been linked to Yamamoto thus far.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a sense the Giants have emerged as the favorite to sign Yamamoto:
Nearly half of the league has called about Yamamoto, according to the Kyodo News, and executives from two teams who have had interest in him told the Chronicle on Sunday they believe the Giants have the edge.
It was previously reported the Giants are determined to sign Ohtani or Yamamoto. The Giants also were said to be determined to make the largest contract offer for Ohtani, but that may no longer be the case.
If the Giants sign Yamamoto, he’ll pair with Logan Webb at the top of their rotation. Alex Cobb is expected to miss Spring Training and the start of the 2024 season while recovering from hip surgery.
Another benefit for the Giants would be preventing Yamamoto from joining the Dodgers, who are in desperate need of elite pitching. The Dodgers reportedly are looking to add multiple pitchers during the offseason and were outbid for Aaron Nola, but he didn’t appear to have interest in Los Angeles as a city.
Projected Yoshinobu Yamamoto contract
With a bevy of teams interested, it’s now expected he will sign a long-term contract in excess of $200 million. The signing team would also incur the cost of paying the Buffaloes a posting fee.
That amount is going to be 20% of the first $25 million of Yamamoto’s contract, an additional 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of the remaining total.
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