With the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings set to kick off Sunday, the baseball world focuses on the game's premier free-agent pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the 25-year-old Japanese star, posted by NPB's Orix Buffaloes on November 20th, is expected to command a contract reaching upwards of $250 million this offseason. And given the teams who are interested, that number will only grow.
Yamamoto is the start of a free agent class that is starved of starting pitching, giving him a list of suitors that is headlined by the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs — all big market clubs who are no strangers to inking premier talent to lucrative long term deals.
The 5′-10″, 176-pound Yamamoto has had a meteoric rise to fame in Japan. Through seven NPB seasons, he has compiled a 70-29 record with 922 strikeouts (an average of 9.3 per nine innings) to accompany a career ERA of 1.82. Despite his trim physique, the phenom has stuff that has been compared to durable, elite MLB pitchers, including David Cone, Tim Hudson, and Mike Mussina.
That said, the annals of MLB history are rife with pitchers under six feet of height who dominated batters. That list includes hurlers like Whitey Ford (5'10”,) Tim Lincecum (5'11”,) and Pedro Martinez (5'11”) — all Cy Young Award winners.
While MLB fans are hoping for a flurry of transactions at this year's winter meetings, Yamamoto isn't expected to be among them yet. Passan reports that Yoshinobu Yamamoto plans to meet with teams after the four-day summit in Nashville, Tennesee concludes.