The Los Angeles Dodgers have officially signed Japanese ace pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million deal, with a $50 million signing bonus. The Dodgers will also be paying Yamamoto’s former Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team, the Orix Buffaloes, an approximately $50 million posting fee. The signing becomes official, five days after the two sides agreed to the terms of the contract. The Dodgers beat out the New York Yankees and New York Mets to land the Japanese star.
Yamamoto comes to Major League Baseball (MLB) after seven seasons in the NPB with the Buffaloes in Japan. In Japan, Yamamoto was a Japan Series champion in 2022, a five-time NPB All-Star, a three-time Japanese Triple Crown award winner, a three-time Eiji Sawamura Award winner, and a three-time Pacific League Most Valuable Player. Yamamoto also has been on three gold medal teams representing Japan, including most recently at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where Japan defeated Team U.S.A. in the gold medal game, 3-2.
Last season, Yamamoto went 17-6, with a 1.16 ERA, 0.860 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 9.3 K/9, and 176 strikeouts in 171 innings pitched. He took home his third Japanese Triple Crown, Eiji Sawamura Award, and Pacific League MVP in 2023. Across his seven seasons in Japan, Yamamoto went 49-16 with a 1.44 ERA.
Yamamoto’s decision to join the Dodgers came just a few weeks after fellow Japanese star Shohei Ohtani decided to join the Dodgers. Yamamoto’s contract makes him the pitcher with the most guaranteed dollars given to them in a contract, surpassing Gerrit Cole’s previous mark of $324 million.
The Dodgers were able to beat out some competitive offers from the Yankees and Mets who also heavily pursued Yamamoto’s services. The Mets’ offer was the same as the Dodgers’ offer, while the Yankees offered Yamamoto a higher average annual value in their 10-year, $300 million offer. Yamamoto’s deal with Los Angeles has no deferrals, and opt-outs after the sixth and eighth years of the contract.
The Dodgers have had a busy offseason, committing over 1.1 billion dollars in the Yamamoto and Ohtani deals, as well as the Tyler Glasnow extension. When you factor in former MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, a superteam is being established at Chavez Ravine.
(Featured image via Ashley Landis/AP)