Lars Nootbaar: Dodgers’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto Is ‘Every Team’s Dream Pitcher’

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The Los Angeles Dodgers filled a hole at the frontend of their starting rotation by signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract.

He edged out New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole for the richest contract handed out to a pitcher in MLB history. In the last three seasons with the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Yamamoto went 49-16 with a 1.44 ERA and 580 strikeouts.

In the 2023 World Baseball Classic, he was among the best starters, helping Japan capture the title over Team USA in the championship game. His teammate in the WBC, Lars Nootbar, detailed Yamamoto’s competitive nature and how cerebral he is on the mound, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:

“He’s one of the best dudes I’ve ever met — he’s such a great guy — and I think people can mistake that for a little bit of softness,” Nootbaar said. “But he’s a killer, man. He’s an assassin when it comes to competition. He cares, and he works hard, and he wants it bad … he’s basically every team’s dream pitcher.”

The Dodgers adding Yamamoto alone was a monstrous deal, but pairing him with Shohei Ohtani made for a home run of an offseason.

Yamamoto is coming off three straight NPB Triple Crown in which he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He holds the NPB record with three Eiji Sawamura Awards, the equivalent of a Cy Young Award, winning it in three straight seasons.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto held an affinity for the Dodgers

Aside from Ohtani joining the Dodgers, Yamamoto apparently had his eyes on the team for a number of years.

At his press conference on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, Yamamoto detailed that he would’ve signed with them regardless of where Ohtani had gone. Reportedly, he ‘loved’ the team, eventually signing a record contract to become their new ace.

While Yamamoto downplayed that previous love for the Dodgers during his press conference, he ultimately chose them over the New York Yankees and New York Mets.

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