Yoshinobu Yamamoto Rumors: Gerrit Cole’s Contract Impacted Yankees’ Offer

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

Yoshinobu Yamamoto drew widespread interest after he was posted for MLB free agency by the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Yamamoto’s free agency process entailed meeting with teams via Zoom before returning to the United States for in-person conversations. The seven finalists for Yamamoto were ultimately believed to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Phillies reportedly made a significant contract offer, but Yamamoto was said to have decided between the Mets, Dodgers and Yankees. The Dodgers and Mets submitted nearly identical contract offers — if not the same — but the Yankees topped out at $300 million.

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, one reason for the Yankees’ reluctance in a bidding war for Yamamoto was not wanting to exceed Gerrit Cole’s contract:

Yankees decided not to match Dodgers winning $325M bid to Yamamoto because: 1) they thought $300M was right offer, 2) they didn’t believe anyone should have a bigger deal than Gerrit Cole. NYY offered optout after 5 yrs but not a $50M signing bonus. Highly unlikely it mattered.

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2023

The Yankees signed Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract in December 2019 that at the time represented the largest for a pitcher in MLB history, both in terms of total money and average annual value ($36 million). The Dodgers had significant interest in Cole at the time but their offerer reportedly topped out at $300 million over eight years and included deferred salary.

Yamamoto now holds the richest contract signed by a pitcher in MLB history at $325 million, and the longest at 12 years. On top of the contract value, the Dodgers owe a record $50.6 million posting fee to Orix.

As for Cole, he also no longer holds the highest AAV for a pitcher, as that belongs to Max Scherzer ($43,333,333.33) who narrowly edges Justin Verlander ($43,330,000).

Ironically, Scherzer and Verlander reached the $43 million AAV threshold by signing respective contracts with the Mets, yet neither is no longer with the team as both were moved at the 2023 trade deadline.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto contract details

Yamamoto’s contract with the Dodgers also includes two opt-out clauses, with the first after the 2029 season and the second in 2031.

Moreover, the 25-year-old reportedly received a signing bonus and Yamamoto’s contract does not include any deferred salary.

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