DODGERS SIGN THREE-TIME PACIFIC LEAGUE MVP YOSHINOBU YAMAMOTO

 

December 28, 2023



LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto on a 12-year contract.

Yamamoto, 25, joins WBC teammate and two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani on the Dodgers after spending the last seven seasons with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. In seven seasons with the Buffaloes, he posted a 70-29 record with a 1.82 ERA and 922 strikeouts in 172 games. In 2023, Yamamoto helped the Buffaloes win the Nippon Pacific League pennant and led them to the Japan Series Championship after going 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and 169 strikeouts over 164 innings in 23 games. He was named the Nippon Pacific League Most Valuable Player for the third straight season as he won the Japanese Pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

“I’d like to thank everyone in the Orix organization, the Dodger organization and all the people close to me who have given me so much support throughout this free-agent process,” said Yamamoto. “I am truly excited to wear Dodger Blue and can’t wait to play in front of a packed Dodger Stadium.”

“This is a great day for the Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball Management. It is also a major milestone for baseball to have Yoshinobu Yamamoto come from Japan to the United States, bringing a level of talent and promise that has captured the imagination of baseball fans worldwide,” said Stan Kasten, Los Angeles Dodgers President and CEO of Guggenheim Baseball Management. “Reuniting with his former Team Japan teammate Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu is poised to have a remarkable impact on and off the field in Los Angeles – as well as to further MLB’s ongoing efforts toward making baseball a great global game. We are thrilled he has chosen the Dodgers and honored to have him.”

“We could not be more excited to bring Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the Dodgers,” said Andrew Friedman, President of Baseball Operations, Los Angeles Dodgers. “You don’t win three MVP awards by the age of 25 without an exceptional combination of talent, work ethic and mental toughness. He’s an elite pitcher with an impressive dedication to his craft who will only become more dynamic in a Dodger uniform. We are thrilled for him to be a mainstay at the top of our starting rotation for years to come.”

Yamamoto is only the third player in Japanese Baseball history to win the MVP award in the NPB over three consecutive seasons, joining Hisashi Yamada (1976-1978) and Ichiro Suzuki (1994-1996). Yamamoto is also one of eight players in history to have three or more NPB MVP awards, joining Sadaharu Oh (9: 1964-1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977), Shigeo Nagashima (5: 1961, 1963, 1966, 1968, 1971), Katsuya Nomura (5: 1961, 1963, 1965-1966, 1973), Kazuto Yamamoto (3: 1946, 1948, 1951), Tetsuharu Kawakami (3: 1941, 1951, 1955), Hisashi Yamada (3: 1976-1978), Ichiro Suzuki (3: 1994-1996) and Hideki Matsui (3: 1996, 2000, 2002).

The 2023 season marked the third straight time he had won the pitching triple crown after going 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 2022 and 18-5 with a 1.39 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 2021, and the fourth time in his career he finished with the ERA title as he posted a 1.95 ERA in 2019. He is one of three players in the NPB to win the ERA title four or more times, joining Kazuhisa Inao (5: 1956-1958, 1961, 1966) and Tomoyuki Sugano (4: 2014, 2016-2018).

Yamamoto made his international debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, leading team Japan to the Gold Medal as he went 0-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 18 strikeouts in two games. He was named to the All-Olympic team and helped his team go 5-0 in the tournament and capture its first Summer Games Olympic Gold Medal. He continued his international duties in 2023 during World Baseball Classic, as he was part of the quartet that led Japan to their third WBC Championship (2009, 2013, 2023). In the tournament, he went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 12 strikeouts in two games (one start).

Yamamoto will be the 12th Japanese-born player to wear a Dodger uniform, joining Ohtani, Dodger Manager Dave Roberts (2002-2004), Hideo Nomo (1995-1998, 2002-2004), Masao Kida (2003-2004), Kazuhisa Ishii (2002-2004), Norihiro Nakamura (2005), Takashi Saito (2006-2008), Hiroki Kuroda (2008-2011), Kenta Maeda (2016-2019), Yu Darvish (2017) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (2021). It will be the sixth time in franchise history that the Dodgers will carry two or more Japanese born players on the roster and the first time since 2017.

Originally born in Bizen, Okayama, Japan, Yamamoto played seven professional seasons, receiving numerous accolades in his career, including Pacific League MVP (2021-23), WBC Champion (2023), Tokyo Games Olympic Gold Medalist (2020), Nippon Professional Baseball League All-Star (2018-2019, 2021-2023), Eiji Sawamura Award (2021-2023), Pacific League Pitcher Best-Nine (2021-2023), Pacific League Golden Glove Award (2021-2023) and Japan Series Champion (2022).

The Los Angeles Dodgers franchise, with seven World Series championships and 24 National League pennants since its beginnings in Brooklyn in 1890, is committed to a tradition of pride and excellence. The Dodgers, baseball’s 2020 World Champions, were recognized as ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year and are dedicated to supporting a culture of winning baseball, providing a first-class, fan-friendly experience at Dodger Stadium, and building a strong partnership with the community. With the highest cumulative fan attendance in Major League Baseball history, and a record of breaking barriers, the Dodgers are one of the most cherished sports franchises in the world. Visit the Dodgers online at http://www.dodgers.com, follow them on Twitter @Dodgers and like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Dodgers. For media information, visit http://www.dodgerspressbox.com

 

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