As if the Dodgers haven’t set the baseball world on fire already, the team has agreed to a 12-year $325 million deal with 25-year-old Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Let’s take a look at how reporters within the baseball community have reacted to the blockbuster signing.
Lead MLB insider Andy Martino of SNY.com explains why Yamamoto chose to sign with the Dodgers as opposed to playing for a team on the east coast, and how the decision will impact the Yankees’ spending plans this offseason.
“It came down to the desire to win... and it came down, of course, to the money too... How big of a blow is it? The way [the Yankees] look at it is Juan Soto is a more important player to get this offseason. They really needed to shore up their offense more than they needed to shore up their rotation.”
Jeff Passan of ESPN delves into the saga that was Yamamoto’s free agency process leading up to his decision, noting that the Dodgers have officially established themselves as a legitimate super-team.
“The resentment is understandable. Fairness is a carrying characteristic in sports, and something about one team handing out two of the biggest deals in sports history in the same month can leave an acrid aftertaste. But that’s where there’s solace in history, in numbers, in logic, in all of the things that prompt you to say maybe this is a superteam — and maybe that’s just fine.”
If there is any concern for the Dodgers signing Yamamoto— who stands at 5’ 10” and 176 lbs— it’s the fact that an arm injury is almost inevitable for someone of his frame that tosses a fastball which tops out at 97 mph.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times downplays the idea of Yamamoto putting too much stress on his arm, especially when Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound for the 2025 season.
“‘Smaller frame, pitching every fifth day, you wonder what the power is going to be like, what the life [on the fastball] is going to be like,’ the first scout said. ‘You might be looking at a 92-94-mph guy, and that life becomes all the more important.’ This shouldn’t be an issue for Yamamoto, though. The Dodgers likely will switch to a six-man rotation when Ohtani returns from Tommy John surgery in 2025, and even last season, when their rotation was ravaged by injuries, pitchers made only 42 starts on four days’ rest, 67 starts on five days’ rest and 44 starts on six or more days’ rest.”
Jordan Shusterman of FOX Sports shares his thoughts on the Yamamoto signing, praising the Dodgers for continuing to go out and compete— on the field and in the open market— each year despite the lack of championship success they’ve had over the past 11 seasons.
“Instead, the fear of October unknowns has hardly been a deterrent. Having exercised free-agency restraint in recent winters in preparation for this one, this billion-dollar spending spree has reminded us what this organization still prioritizes over all: winning as many baseball games as possible. A fear of losing in unpredictable fashion in the postseason should not preclude a commitment to putting the best possible team on the field – and credit to the Dodgers for epitomizing that pursuit no matter how many times they’ve come up short.”
David Adler of MLB.com breaks down Yamamoto’s career in Japan as well as his mechanics, with the hopes that he will be the best Japanese pitcher in all of baseball for the 2024 season.
“Only three Major League pitchers have won three Triple Crowns: Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander. But over in Japan, Yamamoto has won three in a row. Pitching in NPB’s Pacific League, Yamamoto has led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts in each of the last three seasons... Just totaling that up, that’s a 49-16 record, 1.44 ERA and 580 strikeouts for Yamamoto over the last three seasons. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more dominant run in professional baseball today.”