Dodgers announce signing of Yoshinobu Yamamoto

It’s official: Yoshinobu Yamamoto is a Dodger, the team announcing the signing of the Japanese right-hander to a 12-year, $325-million contract on Wednesday, with an introductory news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. in Chavez Ravine.

Two weeks after securing two-way star Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700-million deal, the Dodgers beat out at least a dozen other clubs that aggressively pursued Yamamoto, including both New York teams, the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees reportedly offered Yamamoto $300 million over 10 years, and the Mets reportedly offered $325 million over 12 years.

Ohtani, who has added “recruiting coordinator” to his vast skill set, helped lure Yamamoto to Los Angeles, joining fellow most valuable player award winners Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman for a Dec. 12 sales pitch to Yamamoto in Dodger Stadium.

“I am truly excited to wear Dodger Blue,” Yamamoto said in a team-issues release, “and I can’t wait to play in front of a packed Dodger Stadium.”

Yamamoto, the 12th Japanese-born player in Dodgers history, was dominant in Japan, going 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA in 172 Nippon Professional Baseball games over eight seasons, striking out 922, walking 206 and giving up only 36 homers in 172 innings.

He went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 7 ⅓ innings of last spring’s World Baseball Classic, joining with Ohtani to help Japan defeat Team USA for the WBC title. Yamamoto won the past three Pacific League MVPs and Sawamura Awards, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award.

Though not physically imposing, the 5-foot-10, 176-pound Yamamoto features a four-seam that sits in the 94-95-mph range and touches 97 mph with good ride from a lower release point, a nasty 86-92-mph split-fingered fastball with a 32-inch drop, a 77-mph curve that averages 66 inches of drop and a 93-mph cut-fastball.

“You don’t win three MVP awards by the age of 25 without an exceptional combination of talent, work ethic and mental toughness,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a team-issued release.

“He’s an elite pitcher with an impressive dedication to his craft who will only become more dynamic in a Dodger uniform. We are thrilled for him to be a mainstay at the top of our starting rotation for years to come.”

Yamamoto’s deal includes a $50-million signing bonus and opt-outs after the sixth and eighth year, but there is no deferred money, in stark contrast to Ohtani, who deferred $680 million of his deal until after it expires. The Dodgers will also pay a $50.6-million posting fee to Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, Yamamoto’s former team.

The $325 million the Dodgers committed to Yamamoto over 12 years marks the largest total amount ever guaranteed to a pitcher, surpassing the nine-year, $324-million deal that Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees in 2020.

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