As expected, the Orix Buffaloes will post ace right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto for MLB teams this offseason, the team announced Sunday (per the Japan Times). It will take a few days for the Buffaloes to file the application and MLB to officially declare Yamamoto a free agent. Once that happens, he will have 45 days to negotiate and sign with an MLB team.
The announcement came not long after the Buffaloes dropped Sunday's Game 7 of the Japan Series to the Hanshin Tigers. It is the Tigers' first championship since 1985 and the second championship in franchise history. Yamamoto was brilliant in Game 6,.
The 25-year-old Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 171 innings this season. He won his third consecutive pitching Triple Crown and also his, which is Japan's equivalent to the Cy Young. Yamamoto is only the second pitcher in history to win three straight Sawamura Awards.
. Here's more on the decorated right-hander:
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.
The New York Yankees signed Tanaka to that Japanese player record seven-year, $155 million contract a decade ago. Yamamoto is a good bet to receive $200 million this offseason, especially considering the relatively thin MLB free agent class. Every team (contenders, rebuilders, etc.) could justify pursuing Yamamoto given his age. He would fit any team's contention window.
Yamamoto is not the only high-end player expected to make the jump to MLB from Asia this offseason..