Free agent frenzy for P Yoshinobu Yamamoto expected to start soon

The free-agent posting of Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto could occur as early as Monday, the New York Post reported.

Yamamoto will be an expensive acquisition for whichever Major League Baseball team signs him. It is expected he will sign a long-term deal worth more than $200 million, and his current team in Japan will receive a percentage of the contract value on top of that, which likely will reach more than $30 million.

Several big-market teams and perennial contenders, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and both New York teams, are expected to court Yamamoto.

The 25-year-old spent the past six-plus seasons with the Orix Buffaloes, compiling a 70-29 record with one save and a 1.82 ERA in 172 games. He has struck out 922 batters over 897 innings.

In 23 games in 2023, he finished with a 16-6 record and 1.21 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 164 innings. Those number helped him to his third straight Triple Crown in the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball as he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Only three pitchers in Major League Baseball have won the Triple Crown three times — Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander.

He also has won the Eiji Sawamura Award, which equals the Cy Young Award, three times.

The 5-foot-10 Yamamoto won a gold medal with Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and another in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year.

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