The Los Angeles Dodgers stunned the baseball world this offseason after securing the services of both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. While the details of Ohtani's contract contained, among other things, massive deferrals, the reigning AL MVP will be in LA for the long haul.
However, Yamamoto's new deal offers the Japanese star a pair of opt outs. Details are beginning to emerge, and Yamamoto's 12-year, $325-million contract allows the right-hander to part ways with the Dodgers if he so chooses.
But in an odd twist, the opt outs are tied to Yamamoto's health -- specifically, the health of his right arm. According to Ronald Blum of the AP, if Yamamoto has Tommy John surgery or is on the injured list for a right elbow injury for 134 consecutive service days from 2024-29, he would have the right to opt out after the 2031 and 2033 World Series.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto's opt-out clause hinges on Dodgers fans' biggest fear
If, however, Yamamoto is able to avoid such an injury, he'll be able to opt out of the deal after both the 2029 and 2031 World Series. While these types of stipulations may seem rather odd, a similar type of language was added to Luis Castillo's 2022 contract extension with the Seattle Mariners. In the event that last year's AL Cy Young finalist misses time with Tommy John surgery between 2025-2027, the Mariners are granted $5 million club option.
Dodgers fans are understandably concerned about the possibility of an elbow injury befalling their new pitcher. After all, Walker Buehler missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery. Dustin May went under the knife in 2021, and it was announced last year that the right-hander was undergoing flexor tendon and UCL reconstruction revision surgery.
Last August, Tony Gonsolin got the news that his 2023 season was coming to an end. The former All-Star also underwent Tommy John surgery, and it's quite likely he will miss the entirety of the 2024 season. And Ohtani will not pitch during the upcoming season due to an elbow injury.
The hope among Dodgers fans is, of course, that Yamamoto remains healthy throughout his entire major league career and chooses not to opt out of his current deal.