The Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) posted their superstar, Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Monday, meaning the sweepstakes for the Japanese starting pitcher is officially on for the teams of Major League Baseball.
A 45-day negotiating window will begin on Tuesday where all 30 teams can choose to negotiate if they so choose — and there will be no shortage of suitors. If Yamamoto does not reach an agreement with an MLB team within that window, he must return to Orix for the 2024 season.
Should an agreement be reached, the MLB club that wins the Yamamoto sweepstakes must post a release fee — a price that is dependent on the guaranteed value of the contract — to Orix that doesn’t count against their cap. With Yamamoto expected to fetch approximately $200 million, the MLB club will pay Orix 20% of the first $25 million, an additional 17.5% of the next $25 million, and another 15% of the total guaranteed value exceeding $50 million, per MLB.com.
That projects to be over $30 million in additional fees on top of Yamamoto’s contract.
Such a number isn’t going to dissuade teams from making a run at the 25-year-old, who has been one of the best pitchers on the planet. Across 24 starts this season, the righty he went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA, 0.860 WHIP, and 176 strikeouts in 171.0 innings of work. That lowered his career ERA across seven seasons in Japan is 1.72.
Both the Mets and Yankees are expected to be heavily involved in the sweepstakes, though it appears that nearly every big-market and free-spending club is going to make a run at him. On Sunday, it was reported by Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Mets’ NL East rivals, the Phillies, are expected to be “pretty aggressive,” in their pursuit of Yamamoto. This after they re-signed Aaron Nola to a seven-year deal.
In recent weeks, though, the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers — the team favored in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, too — Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, and the defending-champion Texas Rangers, have all been linked to Yamamoto, as well.