Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes may be coming close to an end as MLB’s most coveted free agent has roughly two weeks left to sign with a team and his process for finding his next club has been ramping up.
Although he has until January 4 to work out a contract, the expectation is he will sign this week, or shortly thereafter.
Most big market clubs have been involved in the process, but the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are believed to be the most serious contenders, while the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox also remain in the mix.
A recent report suggested the Giants and Red Sox made contract offers of more than $300 million to Yamamoto, which lines up with the expectation of where his deal with ultimately land.
However, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, those reports were incorrect and there were only preliminary discussions on terms at the start of his free agent process:
Multiple high-ranking officials trying to sign Yamamoto told ESPN that teams were asked to give a preliminary bid at the start of the process to ensure they were serious — but not necessarily in the neighborhood of where the deal is likely to land. Since then, those officials say, his agent, Joel Wolfe, has not solicited a new round of bids.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal previously suggested Yamamoto will choose his next team, or at least a list of teams he would sign with, before beginning to negotiate contracts.
Passan added more confirmation to that in his story, saying teams were previously turned away from further making more recent offers and discussing terms, with that process beginning this week:
Some teams, sources said, were interested in talking dollars recently but were asked not to do so yet; the expectation is that teams will start proposing contract terms as early as Monday.
Yamamoto has been meeting with interested clubs for the previous two weeks, both on Zoom, over the phone and in-person.
He met with the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium with a group that included Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Will Smith and Bobby Miller. In addition, he has also met with the Mets and Yankees multiple times, which included one at his agency in L.A. and another in New York.
The 25-year-old is in line to possibly land the most significant contract for a pitcher in MLB history, either by total years, total value, or both. The previous record belongs to Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees in 2019.
Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 24 games for the Orix Buffaloes this past season en route to a third consecutive Eiji Sawamura Award, the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young, and won his third consecutive MVP award as well.
Despite never pitching a game at the MLB level, Yamamoto showed he was capable of pitching to MLB talent during the World Baseball Classic, and he is beloved by both scouts and analytics departments.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the Dodgers No. 1 priority
Although the Dodgers have already made two significant splashed by signing Ohtani and acquiring and extending Tyler Glasnow, the team is still in search of another top starting pitcher. They have been connected to Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes, among others, but as it stands, the Dodgers are focused on signing Yamamoto.
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