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Free Agent Poll: Yoshinobu Yamamoto

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Chiba Lotte Marines v Orix Buffaloes - Pacific League Climax Series Final Game 1 Photo by Sports Nippon/Getty Images

This time of year I hate writing about baseball, I’m not a fan of vague rumours. And when there is no news, you get tons of vague rumours. Today is actual news: the Phillies signed Aaron Nola to a 7-year, $171 million contract.

Today’s rumour is that the Jays are ‘willing to trade Alek Manoah.’ The other day, it was ‘Jays are leaders in the Shohei Ohtani’ chase.

And I’m sure the Jays are willing to trade Manoah. As much as trading low is bad, Alek could still bring back a pretty good return as a pre-arbitration player. There aren’t many hitters on the free-agent market.

Anyway, if they were to trade Alek (please don’t), we would have an empty spot in the rotation (Ricky Tiedemann would be my first choice, but the team doesn’t seem to want to give young prospects a spot on the team, I understand they would prefer to keep their prospects as ‘depth’ but sooner or later, I’d love them to give young players a job).

The trade rumours about Manoah lead us to the next on our free agent polls: Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Keith Law has as his number four free agent and Ben Clemens as number two.

Yoshinobu is a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher who had a 1.21 ERA in 23 games, with a 16-6 record. In 164.0 innings, he allowed 28 walks with 169 strikeouts. In his three seasons, he’s had ERAs under 2.

He will be posted next week. Posting rules seem to change yearly, but teams have 45 days to negotiate with him and what his Japanese team is paid depends on the size of his contract.

I don’t know how to translate his NPB stats to MLB, but he throws hard, and has control, I have little doubt he would do well here too. He is only 5’10”, but he has no injury history.

Keith Law says:

It’s a very unusual delivery, with nothing resembling a windup, but he’s extremely athletic and makes it work for plus command and so far durability; I’d call it “tall and fall,” but nothing about the 5-foot-10 (at most) Yamamoto is “tall.” He does take an enormous stride toward the plate, which should help him generate more power from his lower half and maybe boost his extension to mitigate some of the disadvantages of his lack of height. We’ve seen starters his size have success even in today’s game, including free agents Sonny Gray and Marcus Stroman, both listed at 5-foot-10 and maybe an inch or so shorter. Both of those guys became All-Stars by learning to sink the ball to avoid the lack of fastball plane that comes with being short, while Yamamoto works more with a four-seamer that has ride up in the zone and uses a splitter as his primary out pitch.


If I think it’s nerve-wracking projecting an NPB player as the second-best player on the free agent market, imagine how the teams offering him a contract will feel. The truth is that we don’t know how Yamamoto will fare in the majors – but we can make a pretty good guess that he’ll be excellent. He’s been laughably good on the Orix Buffaloes; he won his third straight Sawamura Award, given to the best pitcher in NPB, this year. He also won his third consecutive pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA, and threw a no-hitter for the second consecutive season. He posted a 1.21 ERA, his third straight campaign with an ERA below 2.00. He turned 25 in August. We’re talking about one of the most decorated young pitchers in history, regardless of league.

Clemens figures him to get a 7-year, $197 million contract, averaging $27 million a season. It is a pretty big gamble on a player who has been great in the NPB, but we don’t know how he’ll do here.


Should the Blue Jays sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto if the price is $27 million annually for 7 years?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes, absolutely
    (272 votes)
  • 15%
    Probably, but I’m not enthusiastic about if
    (101 votes)
  • 27%
    Probably not, but I wouldn’t hate it
    (172 votes)
  • 13%
    No, Absolutely not
    (87 votes)
632 votes total Vote Now