Yoshinobu Yamamoto Officially Posted By Orix Buffaloes

November 20: As expected, Yamamoto has been officially posted, as relayed by Joel Sherman of The New York Post. The posting window begins a 7 am Central on November 21 and goes until 4 pm Central on January 4.

November 17: Yoshinobu Yamamoto is one of the offseason’s most talked-about free agents, and he’ll finally be fully available to Major League teams in a few days’ time.  ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via X) that Yamamoto is “expected to be posted” this coming Monday, so his negotiation window to speak with MLB teams will officially begin on November 21.

It is widely expected that Yamamoto will shatter the record for the largest contract ever given to a player coming from Nippon Professional Baseball to the majors for the first time, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting a nine-year, $225MM deal for the right-hander.  Because Yamamoto is only 25 years old, it is quite possible that he might seek an opt-out clause or two in his eventual contract, allowing him the chance to re-enter the market in a few years’ time in search of an even larger deal after he has established himself as a frontline Major League pitcher.

Yamamoto has been utterly dominant over his seven seasons with the Buffaloes, posting a 1.82 ERA over 897 innings.  With a 26.43% strikeout rate and small walk (5.9%) and home run (1.03%) rates, Yamamoto’s numbers are pretty eye-popping across the board, leaving scouts and evaluators with little doubt that he’ll be at least a solid big league pitcher with a clear ceiling as a potential ace.  Since Yamamoto is so young, there should be plenty of prime years left, and there is much less wear-and-tear on his arm than most other premium free agent pitchers in history, considering how it is very rare for players to be available to the open market at age 25.

Technically, Yamamoto is not a completely free agent yet, as per the rules of the MLB/NPB posting system.  Come Tuesday, Yamamoto will have 45 days to negotiate with Major League teams, giving him until January 4 to sign a contract to come to North America.  Yamamoto would return to the Buffaloes for the 2024 NPB season if no deal is reached within that 45-day window, yet with so much interest in his services, it certainly feels like he has pitched his last game in a Buffaloes uniform for the foreseeable future.

The Buffaloes are entitled to a posting fee once Yamamoto signs, so a Major League team will have to pay up some extra money beyond whatever they give to Yamamoto himself.  The Buffaloes will receive 20% of the contract’s first $25MM in guaranteed money, 17.5% of the next $25MM, and then 15% on anything beyond the $50MM mark.  Should Yamamoto land that projected $225MM deal, then, that would mean a $35.625MM posting fee to the Buffaloes — not a bad payday, yet a bittersweet one considering that the Osaka-based team is losing such a proven star.

The Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals, Cubs, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres, and Dodgers have all been linked to Yamamoto to varying degrees, whether it has been club officials or scouts on hand in Japan to see the righty pitch in person, or offseason reports indicating that Yamamoto is high on a team’s list of priorities.  It seems entirely possible that Yamamoto’s list of suitors could be even longer, given the somewhat unique opportunity to sign an elite pitcher at such a young age.

Negotiations will begin in earnest Tuesday, with quite a bit of impact on the overall pitching market.  Because Yamamoto’s free agency would come with a hard deadline, it is possible some of the other top arms on the market might wait until after he signs, to better gauge the field of remaining suitors.  With so many teams in need of pitching, missing out on Yamamoto could make teams more eager (and thus more willing to spend big) to acquire one of the other pitchers left.  Some reports have suggested that Shota Imanaga, his representatives, and NPB’s Yokohama DeNA Baystars might wait until after Yamamoto is off the market to go ahead and start Imanaga’s own posting window.

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Title: Yoshinobu Yamamoto Officially Posted By Orix Buffaloes
Author: Mark Polishuk

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