The Orix Buffaloes officially posted right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto for Major League Baseball consideration Monday. MLB teams will now have up to 45 days to negotiate a deal with Yamamoto. That sets his signing deadline at 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 4.
Yamamoto, who won't celebrate his 26th birthday until next August, was recently ranked by CBS Sports as the second-best free agent available this offseason, only behind two-way player extraordinaire Shohei Ohtani. He's expected to draw interest from all the league's heavy hitters, including the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Yamamoto is a five-time All-Star, a three-time ERA champion, and a two-time Triple Crown champion in NPB. Last year, he won the Pacific League's equivalents of the MVP and Cy Young Awards. He is, in our estimation, the best pitcher in the world to have never suited up for an MLB team. Oh, and he just celebrated his 25th birthday in August. Talent evaluators have raved to CBS Sports about Yamamoto for years, citing his high-grade command over a good arsenal as the most impressive part of his game. He throws a mid-90s fastball about half the time, complementing it with a swing-and-miss splitter and a high-spin curveball. Each of those pitches went for a strike at least 65% of the time this season, reinforcing the notion that he paints with a fine-tip brush. There's more than enough precedent to feel confident in Yamamoto making an easy adjustment to the MLB ball and schedule. In turn, there's no reason for teams to hold back in their bidding, rendering it highly likely that he shatters Masahiro Tanaka's record $155 million contract.
For those unfamiliar with the posting system, it serves as the transfer portal for Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization to MLB. Players who do not qualify for free agency can be submitted by their clubs, who in turn receive a fee if the player joins an MLB team.
Here is the breakdown of the posting fee tiers:
- Contract worth less than $25 million: 20% of contract value
- Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5% of amount over $25 million
- Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15% of amount over $50 million
Yamamoto is one of several notable NPB and KBO available this winter. Japanese lefty Shota Imanaga and Korean outfielder Jung Hoo Lee also ranked in CBS Sports' top 50.