Japanese right-handed ace ‘competition’ on fire… “LAD/SF presidents’ interest in Yamamoto ↑”

The San Francisco Giants are interested in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have also expressed interest in him for a long time.”

The U.S. Dodger Blue reported on the 27th (Korean time), “Yamamoto is on track to become the next star to join the Major League after a stellar career in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).”굿모닝토토

Yamamoto was selected by the Orix Buffaloes in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He started the 2017 season in the second team, but made his professional debut by making his first team debut against Chiba Lotte Marines in August. In 2018, he served as a setup man and played in 54 games as a starter, and in 2019, he joined the starting rotation and became a starting pitcher.

In 2021 and 2022, Yamamoto became the first pitcher to win five awards in two consecutive seasons in NPB history. This season, the last season before leaving NPB, he recorded 16 wins, 6 losses, and an ERA of 1.21 in 23 games, showing his class by winning four or more awards for three consecutive years.

His national team experience is also outstanding. He won the ‘2019 Premier 12’ as a set-up man for the Japanese national team, and won a gold medal as a starting pitcher at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. 

He also joined the Japanese national team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) last March and helped the team win the championship. He was also evaluated as having the ability to compete with world-class players.

After the 2023 season, Yamamoto decided to challenge the big leagues. Yamamoto’s season is not over yet because Orix has advanced to the Japanese Series, but it looks like Yamamoto will be posted by Orix as soon as the season ends. 

Yamamoto’s major league destination is still unknown, but it is clear that the competition is intensifying considerably. Currently, many teams want him, including the New York Mets, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco. The most active teams among them are San Francisco and the Dodgers. 

Dodger Blue said, “San Francisco President Farhan Zaidi headed to Japan to see Yamamoto, who was the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the Pacific League Final Stage between Orix and Chiba Lotte Marines on the 18th.” 

San Francisco President Farhan Zaidi recently appointed coach Bob Melvin, who was the mentor of Kim Ha-seong and Yu Darvish, to the vacant director position. Because Coach Melvin spent a lot of time with Asian players, he was asked about the recruitment of Shohei Otani and Yamamoto at the inauguration press conference. 

Coach Melvin expressed interest, saying, “They are all good players. I hope I can directly influence their recruitment.” And even the president of Zaidi in San Francisco is heading to Japan and showing an active role in recruiting Yamamoto. 

The Dodgers also made their interest in Yamamoto clear early on. Dodger Blue said, “Dodgers President Andrew Friedman already expressed interest in Yamamoto when he visited the 2023 WBC Japan national team.” 

Currently, the Dodgers are in need of a starting pitcher because Julio Urias has been ruled out and Clayton Kershaw’s future is unclear. Yamamoto, who won NPB, whetted the Dodgers’ appetite. Dodger Blue commented, “Yamamoto has explosive weapons that make him an ace.” 

Meanwhile, San Francisco is known to have high interest in Lee Jeong-hoo in the Asian free agent market. San Francisco general manager Pete Putilla visited Gocheok Sky Dome to watch Lee Jeong-hoo in Kiwoom Heroes’ last home game in October. 

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