The Dodgers still have their sights set on acquiring another Japanese player, but that may require increasing the offseason contracts of both players to $1 billion.
After signing two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to a record 10-year, $700 million contract on Saturday, the Dodgers “remain interested” in free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, according to Post Baseball columnist Jon Heyman. “There is still room,” he said.
Yamamoto, 25, is expected to receive a contract in the $300 million range in addition to a posting fee to his existing team, the Orix Buffaloes.
Heyman listed “three strong candidates” for Yamamoto to be drafted by the Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers.
Mets owner Steve Cohen and new team president David Stearns flew to Japan to meet Yamamoto and his family earlier this offseason. The Mets signed Japanese hurler Kodai Chiga to a five-year contract worth $75 million last offseason, and after he finished the 2023 season with a record of 12-7, 2.98 ERA, and 202 strikeouts, He finished 2nd in the league Rookie of the Year voting. 166¹/₃ innings.
“It was a wonderful encounter. [with Yamamoto]” Stearns said earlier this week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. “We try to think of it as providing information about who we are as an organization and what we want to do and be. It's a big decision, and they deserve to have all the information and make the most informed decision and make the right decision for themselves and their families.”
The Yankees, who acquired All-Star outfielder Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade with the Padres earlier this week, are scheduled to meet with Yamamoto on Monday, the Post reported. Yanks GM Brian Cashman also personally scouted Yamamoto in Japan in September and watched the right-hander pitch a no-hitter.
“We've scouted him extensively and think he's going to be a really successful pitcher anywhere on the planet,” Cashman said during the winter meetings. “He's a free agent and we'll see where it takes us. But we're definitely in talks and we're going to give it our best effort.”
The Giants and Phillies are also among the teams with ties to Yamamoto, who has won Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young Award in each of the past three seasons.