The bidding war to pitch phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto is reportedly set to begin.
That’s according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Yamamoto was posted Monday by his Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team, the Orix Buffaloes. As a result, MLB teams will have the opportunity to negotiate a contract with the ace righty.
That negotiating window begins Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET and will last 45 days. Whichever team Yamamoto signs must submit terms no later than January 4, 2024 at 5:00 PM ET.
While two-time AL MVP and two-time superstar Shohei Ohtani is currently the top free-agent target on the market this winter, Yamamoto falls right behind his compatriot as perhaps the best pitcher available.
Given both Yamamoto’s high ceiling and the Red Sox’ desperate need for proven pitching at the top of their rotation, it should come as no surprise that Boston has been linked to the pitcher in recent months.
Last week, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Boston was one of several MLB clubs — along with the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers and possibly both the Giants and Blue Jays — expected to participate in the Yamamoto Sweepstakes this season .
Yamamoto was a force on the mound for Orix during his seven seasons against NPB competition.
In 2023, he captured his third straight Sawamura Award – the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young Award – after posting a 1.21 ERA, 0.884 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 164 innings of work. He also has a chance to take home his third straight Pacific League MVP once the 2023 iteration is handed out.
Since his debut with Orix in 2017, Yamamoto has posted a 70-29 record as well as a 1.82 ERA with 922 strikeouts in 897 innings.
Yamamoto may be the best pitching talent on the open market this season, but prying him away from Japan will require a major financial commitment. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel projected that Yamamoto will eventually sign a seven-year, $212 million deal in the MLB.
The team that gets Yamamoto to finally put pen to paper will also have to pay a hefty postal fee to Orix as part of the signing.
As noted by MLBpost compensation under the MLB-NPB agreement will be 20% of the first $25 million of a Major League contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and then to 15% of any amount above $50 million. There is an additional 15% compensation on all bonuses earned, salary steps and options exercised.
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