Can Orix Buffaloes Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25) receive the highest contract ever for a Japanese pitcher?
Japanese media outlet Full Count said on the 27th, “There is a lot of talk that Yamamoto will advance to the major leagues through postings this offseason. He is also showing great interest in the major leagues. Baseball America, an American magazine, reported that major league scouts had been observing Yamamoto for several years and that ‘if Yamamoto is posted, he will be eager to sign a contract and the amount of money will be considerable.’”토토사이트
Yamamoto is a special ace with a total of 172 games (897 innings) in Japanese professional baseball, 70 wins, 29 losses, an average ERA of 1.82, and 922 strikeouts. He continued to play this season with 23 games (164 innings), 16 wins, 6 losses, an ERA of 1.21, and 169 strikeouts, making him the first player in Japanese professional baseball history to achieve four wins (multiple wins, average earned run average, strikeouts, and winning percentage) for three consecutive years. On the 9th of last month, he pitched 9 innings against Chiba Lotte with 1 walk, 1 pitch, 8 strikeouts, no runs, and no hits.
Full Count said, “Yamamoto won the Sawamura Award and Pacific League MVP in 2021 and 2022. “This year, he won four pitcher awards for the third year in a row, contributing to Orix’s third consecutive league victory,” he said of Yamamoto’s performance.
Yamamoto is considered to be the most anticipated player following Shohei Ohtani (Angels) among the players appearing in the major league free agent market this winter. This is because in the major league, with the exception of Ohtani, there are not many big players except for Cody Bellinger (Cubs) and Blake Snell (San Diego).
Full Count said, “Major League scouts are known to consistently rate Yamamoto higher than Senga Kodai (Mets). A scout from a National League club said, ‘Yamamoto has a lot of weapons. Power, sense, talent. He can save them well. ‘He could be the second or third starter,’” he said, adding that he expected Yamamoto to be able to sign a large contract. Senga signed a five-year, $75 million (approximately KRW 101.4 billion) contract with the Mets this season.
Of course, Yamamoto is not a perfect pitcher either. What major league scouts point out the most is Yamamoto’s short stature. Full Count said, “The biggest concern seems to be his height of 178cm and his weight of 80kg. “There are very few cases where a pitcher of that size has performed well in the major leagues for a long time,” he said. Nevertheless, a scout from an American League team said, “Yamamoto is special. There are concerns because there are not many players (of that size). But the ball he throws is good enough. He countered by saying, “I don’t think his physique will be a problem.”
Yamamoto’s unstable postseason performance could also be an obstacle. In Game 1 of the Climax Series Final Stage against Chiba Lotte, which San Francisco President Farhan Zaidi personally visited, Yamamoto pitched somewhat poorly, allowing 10 hits, 2 walks, 1 out, 9 strikeouts, and 5 runs in 7 innings. In Game 1 of the Japan Series against Hanshin, he collapsed with a loss, allowing 10 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and 7 runs in 5⅔ innings. His postseason performance this year is very disappointing, with 2 games (12⅔ innings), 1 win, 1 loss, and an ERA of 8.53.
Although it is not without weaknesses, Yamamoto’s large contract appears to be becoming a fait accompli. A National League official familiar with the Asian market said, “Yamamoto is a player who can win a huge amount of money. He has no injuries and is durable. “His potential is endless,” he said. Full Count said, “A contract worth over 200 million dollars (about 270.5 billion won) is expected. “He is young at 25 years old, so any club is eagerly targeting Yamamoto,” he predicted.
The highest contract ever recorded by a Japanese pitcher is the 7-year, $155 million (approximately 209.3 billion won) contract that Masahiro Tanaka signed with the Yankees in 2014. If Yamamoto closes the $200 million contract, he will immediately surpass Tanaka and write a new history. Fans are very interested in whether Yamamoto, who is taking on the dream stage, will be able to win the biggest contract in history.