Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is arguably the best non-Major League Baseball pitcher in the world, but that could soon change if the Orix Buffaloes post their ace at the end of the 2023 season as expected.
Yamamoto would join a stacked 2023-24 free agent class for starting pitchers that is set to include the likes of Shohei Ohtani, Clayton Kershaw, Sonny Gray, Blake Snell and Aaron Nola, among others.
The right-hander has won the Eiji Sawamura Award — equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young Award — in each of the last two seasons and is likely on his way to a third consecutive honor as the Buffaloes push for the best record in the NPB.
According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Dodgers were among at least 10 teams that scouted one of Yamamoto’s recent starts:
Also there to see the two-time MVP who’s expected to be posted were the Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Rangers and Tigers.
Yamamoto is seen as a potential ace in MLB as he boasts a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper-90s, and an above average cutter, splitter and curveball. The 25-year made his professional debut in 2017 and has earned a slew of accolades since then.
If Yamamoto is indeed posted at the end of the year, all 30 MLB teams will be permitted to negotiate with him. However, the club that signs him will need to pay the Buffaloes a fee that is equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25 million, 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any additional dollars.
Dodgers previous interest in Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman visited Team Japan ahead of the 2023 World Baseball Classic and specifically noted that the club would be interested in signing Yamamoto if he becomes available.
The Dodgers figure to be in the market for at least two starting pitchers this offseason with Kershaw slated to reach the open market and uncertain surrounding fellow impending free agent Julio Urías after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.
It is expected that L.A. will make a strong push to sign Ohtani, so Yamamoto could be a potential fallback option if they don’t land him.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!