MLB Free Agency

Potential Cubs target Yoshinobu Yamamoto posted by Japanese team

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Highly-coveted free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto has been posted by the Orix Buffaloes, paving the way for his blockbuster move to Major League Baseball.

According to reports, the official window to negotiate with Yamamoto will begin on Tuesday, beginning a process where all 30 teams can make offers to the hurler and to the Buffaloes for his services.

In 24 appearances during the 2023 season, Yamamoto posted a 17-6 record and a sparkling 1.16 ERA, with 176 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 171 innings of work.

Numerous big-market teams have been reported as interested in acquiring Yamamoto, who could command a massive price tag in free agency.

Under the rules of MLB’s posting system, players from the Nippon Professional Baseball league who do not have nine years of pro experience can request to be “posted” for MLB clubs, which is what happened in this case.

That posting opens a 45-day period where teams can negotiate with him. A “release fee” would also have to be paid to Orix by the team that agrees to sign him, and that fee could tack on an additional $30 million or more depending on the price of his contract.

Some reports have emerged that Yamamoto could command $200 million or more over the lifetime of his MLB contract, likely limiting his market to big market teams. He is highly-coveted not just because of his track record of success in Japan, but also because he is only 25 years old, meaning that he could be an ace-level MLB pitcher for a decade or more.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, that could include teams like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Giants, and the Cubs, but it is unclear how aggressively the Cubs could go after Yamamoto, especially if they are serious about trying to sign superstar free agent Shohei Ohtani.  

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