Dodgers sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto to 12-year deal worth $325 million, fill biggest off-season need

Following the coup of Shohei Ohtani signing with the team while getting deferrals to allow for further spending, this undoubtedly became the ideal off-season for the Dodgers to push their chips in. Well, they certainly are continuing down that path, filling an undoubtedly bigger team need (even after acquiring Tyler Glasnow) by inking Japanese right-handed starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto to an 12-year, $325 million contract that secures his place in Los Angeles through his prime.

How are we feeling?

Additionally, the Dodgers will have to pay a posting fee of $50.6 million to the Orix Buffaloes. That essentially makes the price tag $31.25 million a year, which is obviously a massive commitment.


In exchange for all that dough, the Dodgers surely believe they are getting the reliable front-line starter they desperately needed. Yamamoto’s track record in Japan is near flawless. Since debuting in NPB as an 18-year-old, he has put up a 1.82 ERA in 897 innings, striking out 922 to just 206 walks. In his last three seasons — during which he’s won the Eiji Sawamura Award, Pacific League MVP, and Triple Crown in each of them — he has a comical 1.44 ERA in 550.2 innings, striking out 580 and walking 110. Yamamoto is also a five-time All-Star, a 2022 Japan Series champion, a 2023 World Baseball Classic winner, and a 2020 Olympic gold medalist. The track record is obviously impressive.

Still, likely due to not putting up gaudy whiff numbers, FanGraphs has a pretty moderate projection for him of a 3.84 ERA/3.81 FIP in 166 innings and a 3.1 WAR. Good, but not great. The Dodgers are banking that he’ll beat that projection (he’s in the low-3s in run prevention elsewhere), probably figuring that the combination of elite stuff and command will translate better than most who have made the switch. When Eno Sarris looked at Yamamoto’s MLB comparables, he found a four-seamer in the top 20, the best split (among starters), an elite curve, a below-average cutter, elite command, and some durability risk due to his build. Again, a great place to start.

Back in November, Brim also looked at his arsenal and workload and came away with the conclusion that Yamamoto is worth it, especially for this team in this moment.

Due to the Dodgers’ pitching deficiencies, they will need to sign a big free agent pitcher this offseason. Yamamoto is the best pitcher available due to the combination of his age and upside. There are big risks, but there are with the other available arms as well. A team with the Dodgers’ nearly-unlimited resources can absorb said risks better than the rest of the league, even if they sign Ohtani. Yamamoto is the type of pitcher who you want in your rotation for years to come.

It’s hard to disagree, and now that the Dodgers have signed Ohtani and we can see what their financial future looks like, it almost seems more required than optional that something along these lines was done with the rotation, even after locking down Glasnow.


While the general aversion to handing out long-term contracts to pitchers is understandable, the bottom line is that the Dodgers were going to have to make a move for a pitcher with Yamamoto’s kind of reliability and upside at some point, costing money or talent or both. For a team that makes money hand over fist, and who are about to make even more, spending is always the preferable way to take risks. Thus, it’s hard not to be excited about this move.

The Dodgers desperately needed a pitcher they could slot in near the top of the rotation in both the short-term and long-term, preferably one without a lengthy injury history for once, and the 25-year-old Yamamoto certainly checks all the boxes for this roster.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times