Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

by Connor Thomure
Los Angeles Dodgers sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year contract worth $325M. At 25 years old, Yamamoto stands five feet, ten inches tall and weighs 176 pounds. The right-hander has won three straight triple crowns and MVPs in Japan's highest baseball league, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

The Orix Buffaloes finished 2023 with the best record in NPB, largely behind Yamamoto's 16-6 record and 1.21 ERA. The Buffaloes made it to the Japan Series (NPB Championship) but fell to the Hanshin Tigers in seven games.

Yamamoto will start at the top of the rotation for what will surely be one of the best teams in baseball. The Japanese star is another massive signing for the Dodgers, who have recently acquired Shohei Ohtani and Tyler Glasnow this offseason.

The other teams rumored to be involved in Yamamoto included the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, and the San Francisco Giants.

Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yoshinobu Yamamoto with the Orix Buffaloes

Yamamoto has been a member of the Buffaloes since he was 18 and has completed seven seasons with the team. He pitched in 188 games, earning a 75-30 record. Across 967.2 innings, his ERA stands at a stout 1.72, and he struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings.

Along with the triple crowns and MVP awards, Yamamoto's top career achievements include being a 2022 Japan Series Champion and a five-time NPB All-Star. Yamamoto led the league in ERA and strikeouts four times and led the league in wins three times. As a Japan national team member, the pitcher earned a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics and another in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto's Fantasy Impact with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Yamamoto's Fantasy Baseball impact will be massive in 2024 and beyond with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The star pitcher will find his way atop Fantasy Baseball pitcher rankings sooner than later. While it's still too early for a definitive ranking, Yamamoto is a top-15 and maybe even top-10 starting pitcher in 2024 Fantasy Baseball Redaft leagues. Expect Fantasy managers to draft Yamamoto anywhere from rounds three to seven.

Steamer projects the rookie to throw for 166 innings across 29 games while striking out 9.62 batters per nine and allowing 2.51 bases on balls per nine innings. Steamer also projects him to record a 3.84 ERA, 3.81 FIP, and a record of 11 wins and nine losses. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings in 2023, a 9.62 K/9 would have ranked 16th, just above 2023 Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole.

Yamamoto will likely lead the rotation, followed by Walker Buehler, Glasnow, and Bobby Miller. The fifth spot in the rotation is still up for grabs, but it's likely between Emmet Sheehan and Gavin Stone. The Dodgers could still decide to bring back future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, who is aiming to return from shoulder surgery this summer.

From a Dynasty Baseball perspective, Yamamoto is a top-five pick in First-Year Player Drafts. It's debatable if he's going first overall, but I believe he has the highest upside among all eligible players, including Wyatt Langford, Dylan Crews, and Paul Skenes. Fangraphs lists Yamamoto's Future Value at a 65 on the 20-80 scale, the highest among the game's top prospects. Acquiring Yamamoto in Dynasty Leagues will help push a rebuilding team into a win-now situation.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto's Pitch Repertoire

Yamamoto throws a fastball with movement in the upper 90s. However, his best and go-to strikeout pitch is a splitter that sits around 90 MPH. The right-hander also throws a curveball and cut fastball as secondary pitches.

He pitched against MLB talent during the 2023 World Baseball Classic and fared well, striking 12 batters out in seven and one-third innings. The 12 strikeouts ranked second in the tournament. Yamamoto also limited batters to a measly 0.82 walks plus hits per inning.

Final Thoughts on Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yamamoto is garnering a lot of attention and hype this offseason, albeit well-deserved attention and hype.

The only problem is that all this hype drives his price up in Fantasy Baseball. Fantasy managers could very well take Yamamto as one of the first five pitchers off the board this draft season.

It wouldn't be a surprise, however, if he proved himself worthy of this rank and finished 2024 as a top-five pitcher, likely winning the Rookie of the Year award and possibly earning votes for the Cy Young award. I'm willing to take a shot on Yamamoto in the third round. As the season approaches I could probably be convinced to take him in the later portion of the second round.

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