The highest-touted Japanese pitcher in the history of baseball has reportedly shattered the record books.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a 25-year-old who has been named the MVP of the Pacific League in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan for three straight years, has agreed to a 12-year, $325 million deal with, who else but, the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to multiple reports.
The Dodgers continue their massive spending spree in free agency after inking Yoshinobu’s World Baseball Classic teammate Shohei Ohtani to a $700 million pact, the largest in North American sports. They also acquired Tyler Glasnow in a trade and then signed him to a five-year, $135 million extension.
Yoshinobu’s contract is the largest ever given to a pitcher in the history of baseball, breaking Gerrit Cole’s $324 million pact he signed in 2019.
It also shatters the record for the largest deal ever given to a Japanese import by more than double the previous amount – that had belonged to Masahiro Tanaka, who in 2014 signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees. The Bombers also had to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Eagles.
The Dodgers joined the likes of the Yankees and New York Mets in the final bidding for the right-hander.
The Amazins, like the Dodgers, reportedly offered $325 million, while the Bombers’ offer was said to be $300 million, but neither was enough.
In seven seasons in Japan, Yamamoto has pitched to a 1.72 ERA. With the Orix Buffaloes this year, his ERA was 1.21. In Game 6 of the Japan Series, he threw 138 pitches and struck out 14 batters in a 5-1 victory. His highest ERA in a single season in Japan was the 2.35 he posted in 2017.
Yamamoto’s fastball averages 95 mph, and he can touch 99. He throws four pitches and has great control, owning a 4.56 K/BB.
The Dodgers will be without Ohtani on the mound for 2024, as he recovers from elbow surgery. But Yoshinobu will join Walker Buehler and Glasnow in the rotation.
Los Angeles has now committed to over $1 billion worth of contracts this offseason.