Yamamoto spurns Yankees, accepts Dodgers’ $325M, 12-year offer
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Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the most coveted free-agent pitcher of this offseason, finally chose the Dodgers as his new team this winter. According to reports, the star Japanese right-hander has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $325 million over 12 years.
The reported deal surpassed Gerrit Cole’s previous high-mark value of $324 million. However, Cole’s deal was for a shorter 9-year term.
Frenzied, long-drawn Yamamoto drama finally ends
Yamamoto was posted by his Japanese club, the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, last month, sparking intense interest across Major League Baseball. Under posting system rules, the Buffaloes will receive a sizable $50.6 million fee for the rights to negotiate with the case pitcher. That brings the total commitment to him over $375 million pending a physical.
The 25-year-old Yamamoto had until January 4th to finalize the agreement after negotiations opened. Several clubs pursued the standout pitcher, including the New York Mets and Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Toronto Blue Jays.
The long-drawn offseason drama over his free agency even resulted in criticism. On the other hand, baseball fans were eager to know the result thanks to cut-throat competition among big MLB clubs.
Yamamoto has won three consecutive equivalent Cy Young Awards in Japan. Though only 5’10”, his electric stuff and fiery competitiveness impressed MLB executives. Both New York teams aggressively courted Yamamoto before he chose the Dodgers.
New York remained in contention till last minute
Most accounts on Wednesday deemed the Yankees, cross-town rival Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers as the foremost suitors left competing for Yamamoto’s services. The Yankee organization has made no secret of its strong interest, sending a contingent including owner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, and pitching coach Matt Blake to meet with the player.
The Mets brought team owner Steve Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns to personally meet with Yamamoto in Japan. Later, Mets officials had dinner with him at Cohen’s Connecticut home. The Yankees met him twice in California and New York for in-person pitches.
As widely anticipated, the Yankees put forth a substantial contract offer in an attempt to sign the coveted Japanese pitching phenom hours before he made his decision, per a report from Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
With Yamamoto now headed to Los Angeles, the free-agent pitching market is poised to become more active. Other top arms available include NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, veteran lefty Jordan Montgomery, and Japanese star Shota Imanaga.
Wherever he lands, the 25-year-old Yamamoto is assured a massive contract after dominating Nippon Professional Baseball the past three seasons. His electric repertoire and competitive zeal have MLB clubs highly intrigued despite a smaller 5’10” frame.
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