Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Star Pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to $325M Deal

Posted on: December 22, 2023, 09:05h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2023, 10:27h.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the top pitcher from Japan, to a 12-year contract worth $325 million. He will also earn a $50 million signing bonus to leave Japan and join MLB.

LA Dodgers Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, seen here on the mound for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, will join the Los Angeles Dodgers next season. (Image: AP)

Yamamoto, 25, is the top pitcher from the Japanese Pacific League, and he’s widely considered one of Japan’s all-time greatest hurlers. The right-handed ace turned pro at age 18, and has pitched lights-out the last several seasons. He won the Eiji Sawamura Award three times, which is Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young Award for best pitcher.

During his tenure with the Orix Buffaloes, Yamamoto posted a 75-30 record with a 1.72 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.

In 2023, Yamamoto posted eye-popping stats. He went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and a 6-to-1 strikeout ratio. He allowed only two home runs in 164 innings.

Yamamoto is only 5-foot-10, but relies on a six-pitch arsenal including a nasty splitter and knee-buckling curveball.

Dodgers Outbid Teams for Yamamoto

More than half the league wanted to sign Yamamoto. But the field narrowed to the Dodgers and six other teams. The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Toronto Blue Jays all met with Yamamoto.

The Yankees had one of their worst seasons in 30 years, and hoped to change their luck with Yamamoto. They offered him $300 million and set aside jersey #18, which is a lucky and honorable number coveted among Japanese players. The Dodgers outbid the Yankees with an additional $25 million.

Over the last week, the Mets emerged as potential front-runners to sign Yamamoto. Team owner Steve Cohen flew to Japan to persuade Yamamoto to become the Mets’ next ace.

The Dodgers have now spent more than $1 billion on two of the most talented Japanese players from their generation. They also inked two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year deal worth $700 million.

The Los Angeles Angels missed out on a chance to retain their All-Star pitcher/designated hitter when he decided to remain in the City of Angels, but instead joined the Dodgers via free agency.

Ohtani won’t pitch next season while he recovers from elbow surgery. But he’ll perform designated hitter duties and hopes to return to the mound in the 2025 season.

Yamamoto joins a projected pitching staff that includes Walker Buehler, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, and Emmet Sheehan. Meanwhile, former ace Clayton Kershaw is a free agent and could return to the Dodgers, but he’s also mulling retirement.

Dodgers Now +400 Odds to Win World Series

Moments after the Texas Rangers won the 2023 World Series, oddsmakers released odds for the 2024 World Series. The Atlanta Braves were the outright favorite at +650, followed by the Dodgers at +700, and the Rangers at +850 odds to repeat as World Series champions.

The Blue Jays were +1700 odds to win the World Series, but saw an uptick in their futures based on rumors that they had an inside track to sign Ohtani. The Dodgers won the Ohtani sweepstakes, and they surged to the top of the MLB futures board to win the World Series at +550 odds.

On the morning after the Yamamoto news broke, the Dodgers’ World Series odds narrowed to +400 at DraftKings.

The Braves are currently the second favorite on the board at +700, followed by the Yankees (+900), Houston Astros (+1000), and the defending champion Rangers (+1100).

The Dodgers are +210 odds to win the National League pennant. The Braves (+360) and Phillies (+550) are their closest competition.

The Dodgers are the betting favorite to win the NL West at -285 odds, and they’re ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks (+550), San Diego Padres (+800), Giants (+850), and Colorado Rockies (+12000).