March 5th, 2024

Dodgers confirm they’ve reached 12-year deal with free-agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto

By Greg Beacham, The Associated Press on December 27, 2023.

FILE - Japan's Yoshinobu Yamamoto delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of a World Baseball Classic game against Mexico on March 20, 2023, in Miami. Yamamoto, the most prized pitcher on the free-agent market, has agreed to a $325 million, 12-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to multiple reports. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles Dodgers have finalized their 12-year contract with right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, teaming the prized free agent with Shohei Ohtani in their prolific winter spending spree.

The Dodgers didn’t disclose the value of the contract they announced Wednesday, but several media reports have tagged it at $325 million. That deal would be the largest and longest ever guaranteed to a major league pitcher.

The 25-year-old Yamamoto was coveted by teams across the majors after he elected to leave the Orix Buffaloes this offseason. The big-budget, pitching-poor Dodgers landed him with a mammoth deal after already acquiring two-way AL MVP Ohtani and Tampa Bay right-hander Tyler Glasnow this month.

Yamamoto has posted spectacular numbers in Japan’s top league in recent years, winning three straight Most Valuable Player awards in the Nippon Pacific League. He went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA while striking out 169 and walking just 28 this year, winning the Japanese pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

Yamamoto has thrown two no-hitters in the past two years, and he has a 1.72 ERA in his career. He is exceptionally good at limiting his opponents’ power, allowing just 36 homers over his seven seasons in Japan.

The contracts given out by the Dodgers to Ohtani, Yamamoto and Glasnow are potentially worth well over $1.1 billion, but the two Japanese superstars generate significant international revenue that will offset the cost of the deals. Los Angeles is also one of the majors’ richest teams under Guggenheim Baseball Management ownership led by Mark Walter.

The Dodgers were in significant need of pitching after a dismal series of injuries and setbacks this season. Los Angeles still won 100 games even though injury-plagued Clayton Kershaw was their only starting pitcher who threw more than 125 innings or posted a qualifying ERA lower than 3.75.

Yamamoto and Glasnow will be immediate additions to the Dodgers’ rotation, while Ohtani is highly unlikely to pitch in 2024 after undergoing a second elbow surgery in the offseason.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

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