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Dodgers notes: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Josh Hader, Shohei Ohtani

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The Dodgers met with free agent right-handed starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

After already bringing back fan favorite Joe Kelly and signing Shohei Ohtani last week, the Dodgers are still very active in the starting pitching market. With the deferral payments in Ohtani’s contract, the Dodgers have more breathing room to go out and sign the highest rated free agent starters without having to exceed the competitive balance tax.

R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports reported that the bid for Yamamoto could land the 25-year-old a contract exceeding $300 million before he even throws a pitch in Major League Baseball:

“Multiple league sources have told CBS Sports they expect the final bidding for Yamamoto’s services to clear the $300-million mark. And that’s without accounting for the posting fee going back to his NPB team, the Orix Buffaloes.”

Adding Yamamoto to the Dodgers would provide the team with a starter who hasn’t yet entered his physical prime, already adding to a relatively youthful starting rotation, and a pitcher with an excellent arsenal and pitch command.

Eno Sarris of The Athletic breaks down the scouting report Yamamoto and gives him big league pitcher comparisons:

“Yamamoto has a little less ride, a little more tail and a little bit less velo than Kodai Senga, but their fastballs are good comps. Kevin Gausman is four inches taller, but his fastball has similar movement and velocity, as well as release height (somehow)... Yamamoto’s splitter has more drop, the same horizontal movement, and five miles per hour more velocity than Gausman’s splitter.”

While the news surrounding the Dodgers’ interest in Yamamoto has been known for some time now, it seems that the Dodgers are also interested in upgrading and already talented bullpen.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that not only are the Dodgers interested in Yamamoto, but that they have recently grown interest in former Padres closer Josh Hader:

“They are expected to spend that money immediately—and possibly more—as they target free agent pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Josh Hader, according to a source familiar with their thinking.”

Hader had a bounceback season after a subpar 2022 season, posting a microscopic 1.28 ERA with 33 saves, 85 strikeouts in 56⅓ innings, and registering a 321 ERA+.

Even after the signing of Ohtani, as well as re-signing Kelly and Jason Heyward, the Dodgers might not be an immediate World Series favorite, despite their high odds.

Kerry Miller of Bleacher Reports discusses more on what the Dodgers need to do if they want to become the true favorites to bring the Commissioner’s trophy back to Los Angeles i 2024.

“They now need to sign at least one of the top starting pitchers still available (Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery) and probably even one of the guys in the next tier of arms (Shota Imanaga, Lucas Gioltio, Marcus Stroman, etc.) before we can really consider the Dodgers the favorites to even make the World Series, let alone win it.”