Analysis, reaction, and details on Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing with the Dodgers

For Dodgers fans, it’s gonna be a happy holiday season indeed, as they are having an off-season to remember to close out 2023. A big part of that is the signing of Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a record contract, which seems worthy of reading up on the reactions and what not.

Since there will hopefully be no major news in the next few days, feel free to use this as your Merry Christmas post.


The Athletic: Starting things off, getting the details of the contract from Ken Rosenthal seems important, with the most relevant part being the opt-outs being after the sixth and ninth years.

Yamamoto, however, agreed to a 12-year, $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that included a $50 million signing bonus, opt-outs after the sixth and ninth years and backloaded salaries. The deal is not yet official. The New York Mets proposed the same 12 years and $325 million. Other details of their bid are not known.
The Yankees offered Yamamoto 10 years, $300 million — an AAV of $30 million, as opposed to the Dodgers’ $27.08 million. The opt-out in their deal was after the fifth year, and the salaries each year were the same, with no money backloaded.

If he pitches well enough where using either opt-out makes sense for him, I have zero complaints.


ESPN: A few days before he signed, Jeff Passan wrote a profile of Yamamoto that’s worth reading.

Everything Yamamoto does is in service of one goal: moving with purpose. As MLB teams have learned since the Orix Buffaloes posted him Nov. 20, paving his way to sign with a major league team for hundreds of millions of dollars, Yamamoto’s meticulous, disciplined approach is not limited to the baseball field. Executives who have met with Yamamoto admire his preparedness. For years, he has awaited this moment. He peppered his Orix teammates who had played in the big leagues with questions about MLB. He overhauled his delivery to eliminate a weakness that could be exploited here. This year, he sent his best friend, who serves as his assistant, to Toronto to take English classes, travel to major league cities across the United States and collate information that would better inform his ultimate decision.

Wherever Yamamoto lands, he’ll pack his stuff — including his bag — and head off to the best baseball league in the world, the truest test of how good he really is. Whatever happens when he arrives, if it’s anything like how he handles the rest of his life, it will be purposeful — and great.

Sounds similar to Shohei Ohtani, at least in terms of trying to find any way to improve and a desire to be great.


The Athletic: I’ve previously cited Eno Sarris doing comps for Yamamoto’s stuff based on data, but it certainly seems relevant to mention again. He came away with a top-20 fastball, best starter split in baseball, elite curve, below-average cutter, elite command, and some durability questions.

Dodgers Digest: Speaking of previously cited things, going back to look at our very own Daniel Brim‘s article for a comprehensive look at what he brings to the table seems worth it.

MLB: David Adler similarly looks at Yamamoto’s stuff with Statcast, including visual cues.

FOX Sports: Jake Mintz looks at the hype behind Yamamoto, and mainly focuses on his fastball.

Baseball America: Kyle Glaser provides a scouting report, believing he projects as a #2 starter type and rates him as a 70-grade prospect.

The Future: Yamamoto will have to adjust from pitching once a week in Japan to every five days in MLB, but like Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideo Nomo before him, he has the stuff and aptitude to successfully make that transition. He projects to be a No. 2 starter and has a chance to contend for Cy Young Awards.
BA Grade: 70/Medium

MLB: Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis are … pretty low on him if this is where he ranks as a prospect in their minds.

Jim Callis and I looked at this a little differently. Jim looked at our existing Top 100 and while he thinks Yamamoto is a very talented pitcher, he thought of him as the second-best pitcher on the list, behind Paul Skenes, but he wouldn’t put him ahead of Wyatt Langford, who is currently at No. 13. That would put him no higher than 14, perhaps as low as 18.
I started reconfiguring the Top 100 a bit as we talked it through and figured Langford will move up into the top 10. I agreed with Jim that Yamamoto would be the second-best pitcher on the list, behind Skenes, but would put him in the top 10, somewhere in the 8-10 range (also behind Langford).

Los Angeles Times: Mike DiGiovanna got input from scouts on Yamamoto, though the main pushback seems eh.

The durability concerns themselves are valid, but predicting that a 25-year-old pitcher that can touch 99 mph will hurt his elbow at some point is completely useless as information. I can predict that with literally every pitcher, and if they stay in the league long enough, I’ll almost always be right.


FanGraphs: As far as analysis goes, Eric Longenhagen thinks Yamamoto’s special and fills the needs of the Dodgers.

Consider Yamamoto’s performance in Game 6 of the NPB Series a month ago. A few days after the Hanshin Tigers knocked him around in Game 1, he threw a 138-pitch, 14-strikeout complete game to push the series to a decisive Game 7. In an environment where big league pitchers’ performance drops off after the opposing lineup has seen them three and four times, he was utterly dominant despite the Tigers seeing him for the fifth, sixth, and seventh times. This is a special individual, and he is young enough that he may still get a bit better as he enters his late-20s.

Baseball Prospectus: Ginny Searle, Patrick Dubuque, and Craig Goldstein all take on different angles of the signing, but Craig kinda gives the final word on it.

Again, the Dodgers have made it clear that anything less than championships, plural, are a failure. Those are not our words or sentiments, but rather their own. They’ve put the target on their back and when they inevitably flame out of some playoff round or another over the next five years, there won’t be an ounce of pity to be found. The only thing awaiting these Dodgers are expectations—from both their faithful followers and the wrathful 29 other fan bases. Of course, that was already the case. The most common refrain to be found about the 2023 Dodgers were along the lines of “remember when they started Lance Lynn in an elimination game?” or “remember how the Diamondbacks blasted their Hall of Famer in waiting?” 
This offseason makes it clear: The Dodgers sure do.

ESPN: Bradford Doolittle unsurprisingly grades the deal as an ‘A’.

The bottom line is there is no such thing as a mega-contract without risk, certainly not for a pitcher. But the Dodgers are the kind of franchise who can afford to take on this kind of risk. The union of Yamamoto, Ohtani, the Dodgers, and the Los Angeles and Japanese fan bases has the potential to be an all-timer. When you think of the Dodgers, you think blue — but their future is going to be generating a whole lot of green.


With it being around Christmas, presumably some writers are already on vacation, so there will probably be more analysis that comes out later, especially when the deal is actually finalized. However, I can’t imagine they say much different from what’s presented here.

Anyway, stay safe and have a good one.

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