2023-12-24 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Eric Espada/Getty Images | Samurai Japan

It’s Los Angeles’ world, we’re all just living in it.
In the same month that saw the Dodgers ink a record-breaking $700 million dollar contract to MVP Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Friedman continues his historic offseason by signing 25-year old NPB righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a massive 12-year, $325 million dollar deal.
Yamamoto, considered to be the best arm available on the open market, will join fellow countryman Ohtani amidst his first MLB contract. Though not as absurd as Ohtani’s massive deferrals, Yamamoto’s $50 million signing bonus - a portion of his over $325 million - is exempt from California’s tax bracket as he’s not a resident of the state at this time. This contractual agreement, much like the ones in Ohtani’s deal, optimizes the total dollar amount that will see the pockets of Yamamoto - and limit yearly tax payments to California.
In terms of his success in Japan, he’s already one of the best NPB pitchers ever - Yamamoto is a three-time Pacific League MVP, three-time Triple Crown winner, and the Eiji Sawamura Award (Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award). He is the only pitcher to have ever won three consecutive pitching Triple Crowns, his first of which was in 2021 with the Orix Buffaloes.
Across seven seasons in the NPB, Yamamoto racked up a whopping 75-30 record while posting an ERA of 1.72. His success has been so profound that, since entering professional baseball, Yamamoto has never had a season in which he did not put up remarkable statistics. He’s struck out 986 over 967 ⅔ IP while walking only 216. In 2023, Yamamoto gave up just two home runs over 171 IP, one of which came off the bat of ex-Major Leaguer David MacKinnon.
Yamamoto joined current Major Leaguers Shohei Ohtani, Lars Nootbar, Masataka Yoshida, and Yu Darvish on Japan’s World Baseball Classic squad, a team that ended up beating an American squad in the 2023 finals. Roki Sasaki - a 21-year old phenom pitcher who will likely be posted in a few years’ time - also suited up next to Yamamoto, as well as currently-posted lefty Shoto Imanaga and the recently-signed Yuki Matsui (with the San Diego Padres).
With Yamamoto’s new deal with the Dodgers, Los Angeles’ quest to rebuild their injury-plagued rotation is seemingly nearing completion. Though Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in 2024, their 2025 starting staff will consist of the aforementioned Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Walker Buehler, and Bobby Miller. It’s a surplus of talent, not to mention names like Emmet Sheehan and Nick Frasso too.
Andrew Friedman has now dolled out over a billion, yes a billion dollars, over just two players this offseason - this excludes all other Free Agent contracts as well as recently acquired Tyler Glasnow’s extension.
Clayton Kershaw’s future is now all but determined to continue elsewhere, if at all, following the longtime Dodger undergoing left shoulder surgery. If Kersh’s last start as a member of Los Angeles’ staff has indeed passed, he will be remembered as one of the organization’s all-time greats, and no doubt will receive a proper sendoff at some point in the near future.
Along with Yamamoto receiving a $50 million dollar signing bonus, the Dodgers also have paid a $50.7 million signing fee to the Orix Buffaloes - Yamamoto’s former club, who posted him.
Though the posting systems between the MLB and foreign leagues have been long scrutinized and riddled with a variety of issues over the years, this offseason has seen a large number of players having already signed MLB contracts - alongside Yamamoto, Yuki Matsui (5 years/$28 million), Jung Hoo Lee (6 years/$113 million) and Erick Fedde (2 years/$15 million) all notched multi-year deals after playing overseas last season.
By all accounts, lefty Shoto Imanaga will be next off the board as the WBC Championship Game starter for Japan is rumoured to have multiple large offers on the board from MLB clubs. Reliever Yariel Rodriguez, the 2022 NPB Most Valuable Setup Pitcher winner who posted a 1.15 ERA over 54 ⅔ IP with the Chunichi Dragons, has also been mentioned as a probable signee.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins


Up Next

Sports Tree Blog


Read more2024-06-10 · 3 min read
UEFA Champions League/Soccer
Sports Tree Blog


Read more2024-05-10 · 2 min read

Sports Tree

© 2024 Sports Tree LTD.

The sports tree newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms of Service  and Privacy Policy. You can opt out at any time.