Japanese pitching superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto has agreed to a massive 12-year, $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, per multiple reports. The deal shatters the previous record for a pitcher contract held by New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.
Yamamoto Spurns Yankees, Mets to Land West Coast Windfall
The sought-after right-hander drew interest from several MLB clubs, but ultimately chose to bring his talents to Southern California. The Yankees reportedly offered Yamamoto a 10-year pact worth over $300 million. However, the chance to join forces with two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani and pitch for an established contender like the Dodgers proved too enticing.
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen made it clear that money was no object in their pursuit of Yamamoto. But even the deep pockets of baseball’s richest owner could not sway Yamamoto away from the Dodgers’ winning culture and organizational stability.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto Contract Breakdown:
Total Value: $325 million
Average Annual Value: $27.1 million
At just 25 years of age, Yamamoto now stands to earn over $27 million per year well into his late 30s, an almost unheard of contract length for a starting pitcher. But given his pedigree, age and arsenal of pitches, the Dodgers felt confident investing their future in the Japanese import.
Scouting Report on Yamamoto’s Dominant Pitch Mix
Yamamoto consistently touches 101 mph with late life on his fastball while mixing in a plus slider and splitter that ranks among the best in the world. The righty has exhibited stellar command and posted utterly dominant numbers across his seven seasons playing professionally in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto NPB Stats:
His stuff profiles well for MLB success. Yamamoto draws comparisons to countryman and former Dodgers standout Hideo Nomo for his deceptive, cross-body delivery. If he makes a smooth transition to facing big league lineups, Yamamoto has the tools to develop into a perennial Cy Young contender.
What Yamamoto Signing Means For Dodgers Moving Forward
Inking the Japanese ace to a long-term pact fills the Dodgers’ biggest need this offseason after losing 2022 NL Cy Young winner Julio Urias in free agency. With reigning AL MVP Ohtani slotting into an enhanced two-way role, Yamamoto will be tasked with heading up a retooled starting rotation also expected to include Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Clayton Kershaw.
Retaining homegrown stars like Gonsolin and May while still aggressively upgrading their roster exemplifies the Dodgers’ fruitful player development pipeline and willingness to spend. Yamamoto will be counted on to produce ace-level production right away as the Dodgers seek their second championship in three seasons.
Backed by a patient approach focused on hitting mistakes, the Dodgers led MLB in runs scored last season. Their offensive firepower, combined with Yamamoto joining an elite pitching staff, makes Los Angeles the clear-cut World Series favorites entering 2023. With a balance of star power, depth, financial might and prospect capital, the Dodgers appear poised to dominate for the foreseeable future.
This marks the second straight offseason they have landed the most coveted free agent pitcher when they inked 2021 AL Cy Young recipient Robbie Ray last winter. The Dodgers simply refuse to waste the prime years of generational talents like Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner.
How Other Suitors Will Pivot After Missing Out on Yamamoto
Both New York clubs will be forced to explore alternative options after failing to sign Yamamoto. The Mets may shift their focus to upgrading center field and trying to retain breakout right-hander Chris Bassitt. After coming up short on their top target, expect Mets owner Steve Cohen to green light more big splashes to supplement ace Justin Verlander and co-ace Max Scherzer.
As for the pitching-needy Yankees, they could circle back on free agents like Carlos Rodon or Japanese righty Kodai Senga. Or pivot to the trade market for arms like Pablo Lopez, Sean Manaea or Kyle Gibson to provide rotation reinforcements behind Gerrit Cole. President Brian Cashman has made it clear that starting pitching remains their top priority.
In the end, the relentless Dodgers simply would not be denied in their pursuit of Yamamoto. His record contract cements President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman as the most aggressive and successful team builder in today’s game. By continually identifying and aggressively acquiring elite talents in their prime years, the Dodgers remain the undisputed class of MLB as we enter the 2023 season.
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