‘Four titles in three years’ Japanese ace lands record-breaking contract…”The next big free agent after Ohtani”
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 25, of the Orix Buffaloes, is emerging as the top pitching prospect in Major League Baseball’s free agent market.
The Athletic reported on Nov. 20 that “San Francisco wants to hire a new manager by the time the free agency market opens in early November. But with the process of identifying a finalist stalled, president Farhan Zaidi traveled to Japan to scout free agents, where he watched Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitch in Game 1 of the final stage of the Climax Series. Around the same time, general manager Pete Putilla flew to South Korea to attend Lee Jung-hoo’s final game. “These moves underscore how strongly San Francisco wants to pursue two of the top international free agents,” he said, noting that the Giants are moving quickly to recruit Asian players.
The biggest name in free agency this winter is undoubtedly Shohei Ohtani (Angels). After batting .344 (151-for-497) with 44 homers, 95 RBIs and a 1.066 OPS in 135 games this season, and going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 games (132 innings) as a pitcher, 카지노사이트넷 Ohtani is widely expected to get the biggest contract of his career, even though an elbow injury will prevent him from pitching next year.
Outside of Ohtani, the free agent class doesn’t have a lot of big names. Blake Snell (San Diego), Cody Bellinger (Cubs), and Aaron Nola (Phillies) are the only other players who could get big contracts.
Given the poor free agent pool, San Francisco has turned to Asian players early on, as Japan’s top ace Yamamoto and South Korea’s top hitter Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) are both coming to the majors this winter.
The Athletic reports, “According to sources, Zaidi watched Yamamoto pitch in the first game of the final stage of the climactic series against the Chiba Lotte at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, on April 18. The Orix won 8-5, but Yamamoto didn’t have his best outing, allowing five runs on 10 hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out nine and walking one. However, the pitching performance didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for Yamamoto, who has world-class athleticism and command of his pitches. Yamamoto is likely to be the next big name in free agency after Ohtani.”
Yamamoto is an elite ace with a career record of 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA in 172 games (897 innings) in Nippon Professional Baseball. From 2021 to 2023, he became the first pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball to win four pitching titles (wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage) in three consecutive years. This season, he has also been outstanding, going 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA in 23 games (164 innings).
In a podcast earlier this month, Zadii said, “It became a pilgrimage for club officials to see Yamamoto. He really is one of the best pitchers in the world. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not,” Zadie said of Yamamoto’s potential for success.
San Francisco also targeted Kodai Senga (Mets) last offseason, when he declared for the major leagues from Japan, but the Mets, who were spending a lot of money on bolstering their lineup at the time, signed him to a five-year, $75 million deal. Senga had a successful rookie season, going 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 games (166⅓ innings).
The Athletic wrote, “The Mets, who traded Justin Verlander (Houston) and Max Scherzer (Texas), are unlikely to be attractive to Yamamoto. There’s a sense in baseball circles that San Francisco won’t allow another team to outbid them for Yamamoto.” The Athletic expected San Francisco to be aggressive in its pursuit of Yamamoto.