Yoshinobu Yamamoto Rumors: Unprecedented Interest From Teams

Yoshinobu Yamamoto immediately became one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency after the Orix Buffaloes posted him last week for all 30 MLB teams to negotiate with.

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.

Yamamoto is considered to be the best pitcher to make the jump from NPB since Shohei Ohtani in 2017. As such, the 25-year-old has no shortage of suitors and should sign a contract of at least $200 million.

Yamamoto’s agent Joel Wolfe said his client has received more interest than any player he can remember, per Steve Henson of the L.A. Times:

“This is by far the player with the most interested teams that I have ever seen at the beginning of free agency,” Wolfe told Japanese reporters.

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

It is believed that Yamamoto wants to pitch for a big-market team, and potentially one on the West Coast. That is good news for the Dodgers, who are among the teams aggressively pursuing Yamamoto as they search for starting pitching upgrades.

Another report suggested Yamamoto may prefer signing with a club that has a Japanese player, but Wolfe refuted that notion. The Dodgers of course are making a strong push to sign Ohtani as well.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto would ‘love to pitch’ for Dodgers

As Yamamoto evaluates his options in free agency, David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio reported that he grew up a Dodgers fan and is said to be intrigued with the idea of pitching for them.

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