Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the top pure pitcher on the free-agent market, has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a 12-year deal worth $325 million, CBS Sports HQ insider Jim Bowden has confirmed. That figure makes this the largest contract in MLB history ever given to a pitcher, edging out Gerrit Cole’s $324 million deal with the Yankees. Yamamoto had been posted for MLB consideration by Japan’s Orix Buffaloes earlier in the offseason, and Yamamoto’s ex-NPB team will now receive a posting fee of just over $50 million from the Dodgers.
The bidding for Yamamoto picked up momentum earlier on Thursday, and the Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets solidified their standing as the favorites in those final hours. In the end, though, Yamamoto chose to join countryman Shohei Ohtani in LA. Ohtani earlier this month signed a $700 million contract with the Dodgers that included . That flexibility permitted the Dodgers to continue spending in such a manner, and indeed that was the expectation when Ohtani signed the record pact. Speaking of deferrals, Ken Rosenthal reports that Yamamoto’s deal has none and includes a $50 million signing bonus, as well as opt outs after 2029 and 2031. The deal is somewhat backloaded.
According to SNY, the Mets matched the Dodgers’ $325 million figure with their offer, and the Yankees offered $300 million.
Yamamoto, 25, had been one of the most decorated and accomplished pitchers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. In seven seasons spent with the Orix Buffaloes, he compiled a 1.72 ERA and a 4.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s a three-time Eiji Sawamura Award winner (think: the NPB version of the Cy Young Award) and a five-time NPB All-Star Game representative.
Yamamoto is a five-time All-Star, a three-time ERA champion, and a two-time Triple Crown champion in NPB. Last year, he won the Pacific League’s equivalents of the MVP and Cy Young Awards. He is, in our estimation, the best pitcher in the world to have never suited up for an MLB team. Oh, and he just celebrated his 25th birthday in August. Talent evaluators have raved to CBS Sports about Yamamoto for years, citing his high-grade command over a good arsenal as the most impressive part of his game. He throws a mid-90s fastball…