The Los Angeles Dodgers introduced Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Wednesday after signing the star Japanese right-hander to a 12-year contract.
“I am truly excited to wear Dodger blue and can’t wait to play in front of a packed Dodger Stadium,” Yamamoto said in a statement a few hours before his introductory press conference, according to The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya.
Yamamoto’s pact is reportedly worth $325 million, the largest free-agent contract for a pitcher in MLB history.
The 25-year-old joins the Dodgers after a storied career for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.
A three-time winner of the Sawamura Award, Japan’s Cy Young equivalent, he registered a 1.72 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 967 2/3 innings for the Buffaloes.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the Orix organization, the Dodger organization, and all the people close to me who have given me so much support throughout this free-agent process,” Yamamoto said.
The Dodgers’ signing of Yamamoto came only a few weeks after they landed the biggest fish of all in two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. However, the opportunity to play with Ohtani wasn’t the deciding factor for Yamamoto.
“I wouldn’t say (Ohtani) was the sole reason I decided to come here. Even if he went somewhere else, I probably would have still ended up in L.A. as a Dodger,” Yamamoto said at his press conference via an interpreter, according to SNY.
Yamamoto is expected to lead a revamped Dodgers rotation in 2024 alongside fellow offseason acquisition Tyler Glasnow, Walker Buehler, Bobby Miller, and Emmet Sheehan.
“He’s an elite pitcher with an impressive dedication to his craft who will only become more dynamic in a Dodger uniform,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We are thrilled for him to be a mainstay at the top of our starting rotation for years to come.”