This offseason, MLB has been knocking over dominoes slowly, and two of the biggest have officially come down. First, it was Shohei Ohtani; now, it's Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The intense competition surrounding Yamamoto is unlike anything we've seen for an international free agent who has never pitched in MLB. Short of tracking a plane from Anaheim to Toronto, onlookers been doing everything in their power — from dissecting Instagram stories with Lars Nootbaar to spotting him in the crowd at Lakers games — to try to figure out where Yamamoto will spend his career in the United States.
The wait is finally over: Yamamoto has chosen the Dodgers. Per Jack Curry of the YES Network, corroborated by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, Yamamoto reportedly agreed to a $300+ million deal with the Dodgers, following intense competition from the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Phillies, and Red Sox that has included multiple meetings between Yamamoto and team executives, wooing from some of the game's biggest stars, and a record-breaking amount of money for an international free agent.
Dodgers sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto in LA's third superstar addition of the offseason
Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman were all reported to be in attendance at Yamamoto's initial visit to Dodger Stadium last week, and now Yamamoto will be joining them in Dodgers' blue next year. With Ohtani, Tyler Glasnow, and now Yamamoto's additions to LA's roster, the Dodgers seem just one more starting pitcher short from becoming, far and away, the favorites to not only win next year's World Series but many after that.
Despite a FaceTime call from Bryce Harper from the Phillies, former teammate Masataka Yoshida on the Red Sox, early visits to Japan from the Yankees, and insistence that he won't have to live in Shohei Ohtani's shadow in New York from the Mets, the Dodgers have won out, making them the decisive victors of this offseason.
There's still work to be done — as mentioned, the Dodgers still need at least one more starting arm if they want to be completely dominant. But Yamamoto is more than a step in the right direction, he's one of the very last pieces of the puzzle. With Ohtani, the Dodgers started to transform into a fearsome behemoth; with Yamamoto, that transformation is almost complete.