The Dodgers signed star Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto for 12 years and $325 million, the longest and most lucrative contract for a pitcher in baseball history.
It was a perfect storm for Yamamoto reaching free agency, after winning three consecutive MVP awards in Japan and three straight Eiji Sawamura Awards as the league’s best starting pitcher. Factor in that he’s just 25 years old, several years younger than anyone else on the free agent market drove his price up substantially.
Yamamoto had a 1.16 ERA in 171 innings for the Orix Buffaloes in 2023, with 176 strikeouts against only 28 walks, his third straight year with a sub-2.00 ERA.
“He features multiple weapons to navigate a lineup effectively in addition to that is a truly a special command that not only allows him to go deep into games, but when needed, he can feature swing-and-miss stuff that is elite,” Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said during Yamamoto’s introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium on December 27, 2023. “As we began to learn more about Yoshinobu there is no question that the commitment on the field was just as much as the commitment off the field.”
Yamamoto’s contract includes a $50 million signing bonus, all paid during 2024, and a somewhat-backloaded deal that will pay him a total of $155 million over the first six years. Yamamoto has two chances to opt out of the contract into free agency, depending on the health of his right elbow. The first such opportunity could come after the 2029 season.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Yamamoto, relief pitcher Bryan Hudson was designated for assignment then traded to the Brewers a week later.