November 20, 2023 – 8:19 PM UTC
(Reuters) – Yoshinobu Yamamoto is poised to become Major League Baseball’s next big Japanese star after the 25-year-old pitching sensation posted as a free agent on Monday.
The right-hander is expected to set off a bidding war among the league’s richest clubs looking to upgrade their starting rotations and could command a long-term contract worth north of $200 million.
Yamamoto was posted on Monday by the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) where he is a three-time winner of the Eiji Sawamura Award, which is equivalent to MLB’s Cy Young Award.
This year he went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and captured his third straight Triple Crown in the NPB’s Pacific League as the leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
He won a gold medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021 and helped Japan to victory at the World Baseball Classic earlier this year.
Per MLB rules, the window for teams to bid on Yamamoto opens on Tuesday and closes on Jan. 4.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in San Francisco; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama