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Yoshinobu Yamamoto joins Dodgers: Shohei Ohtani ‘wasn’t the sole reason’ for signing with Los Angeles

Yoshinobu Yamamoto joins Dodgers: Shohei Ohtani 'wasn't the sole reason' for signing with Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Dodgers welcomed their newest star Wednesday. Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, fresh off signing a record 12-year contract worth $325 million, was officially introduced at a press conference at Dodger Stadium. His $325 million deal is the largest pitching contract in history, narrowly edging out Gerrit Cole’s $324 million deal with the New York Yankees.

“Good afternoon. My name is Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the L.A. Dodgers,” Yamamoto said in English to open his press conference. “I am beyond ecstatic to become a member of this historic franchise, and cannot express how much it means to me to be able to call Los Angeles my new home.”

Traditionally, No. 18 is the “ace” number in Japan, and it had been worn previously by Hiroki Kuroda and Kenta Maeda with the Dodgers. Yamamoto said he attended a 2019 postseason game started by Maeda at Dodger Stadium. That experience, when he was just 19 years old, motivated him to pitch in MLB as it began to sell him on the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium.

“It was very important to be with a team that wants to win. Not only now, but in the future as well. I really felt throughout the whole process, the Dodgers provided that opportunity most,” Yamamoto said. “… I promise to all the fans of L.A. that I will focus everything to become a better player and a world champion as a member of the Dodgers.”

Yamamoto is, of course, joining two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani with the Dodgers. Los Angeles signed Ohtani earlier this month to a record 10-year, $700 million contract. Heavy deferrals — heavy as in Ohtani will be paid only $2 million a year for the next 10 years — lowers the present-day value to approximately $460 million, which is still the richest contract in baseball history.

Ohtani and Yamamoto were teammates in the World Baseball Classic this spring when they helped Japan go undefeated en route to winning the WBC championship. Yamamoto visited Dodger Stadium during his recruitment period and Ohtani was involved with the meeting, though he downplayed Ohtani’s role in convincing him to sign with the Dodgers.

“[Ohtani] wasn’t the sole reason I decided to come here. Even if he decided to go somewhere else, I probably would’ve ended up on the Dodgers,” Yamamoto said. “… The fact that Shohei [deferred so much salary] signaled to me it wasn’t just the front office. The players have bought into the winning atmosphere as…

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