Yoshinobu Yamamoto SP NPB Orix Buffaloes
Yamamoto will meet the requirements to be a Foreign Professional player prior to the 2024 season and will therefore be eligible to receive whatever contract is available to him on the open market.
This is a free-agent crop that features a myriad of exceptional starting pitchers which has the potential to hurt his market value, although the recent injury to Shohei Ohtani as well as Marcus Stroman’s extended absence should help him a little bit.
Some of the truly special starting pitchers that were supposed to be available this offseason have had rough years. Julio Urias (4.15 ERA), and Aaron Nola (4.49 ERA) have struggled all year. Marcus Stroman has struggled since before the all-star break. Eduardo Rodriguez has been injured for part of the year. Sonny Gray isn’t getting any younger.
Really the only pitcher that has a solid pedigree and matching results that will be hitting the market this offseason is Blake Snell, but the Padres have deep pockets and could easily prevent him from walking.
For his part, Yamamoto helped Japan to a World Baseball Classic win and Fangraphs had this to say about the player that they believe could immediately slot into the middle of a contending rotation:
"Yamamoto followed up his 2021 leap, in which he became NPB's best pitcher, with a nearly identical '22 season. Once again he worked just shy of 200 innings in 26 starts (nearly 7.2 innings per start) while posting the best ERA (1.68), xFIP (2.31) and K-BB% in NPB, leading the league in strikeouts (205, 32 more than second place Roki Sasaki) and WAR among pitchers. Yamamoto retained the little velo bump he first showed in 2021 and still sits 93-95 mph, reaching back for some 6s and 7s during starts and peaking at 99 during 2022."- Fangraphs