The L.A. Dodgers aren’t kidding around.
When Shohei Ohtani agreed to defer the vast majority of his $700 million salary, part of the deal was that the Dodgers would use that payroll flexibility to improve the team around him. So far, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has been true to his word.
Last week, the Dodgers dealt for Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Tyler Glasnow – perhaps the biggest fish on the trade market – and quickly signed him to a four-year, $110 million extension on top of his $25 million salary for 2024. Then, a little over a week later, they landed the biggest fish remaining in free agency: NPB superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Like I said, the Dodgers aren’t kidding around.
Yamamoto is a five-time NPB All-Star. He has won the Pacific League MVP in each of the last three seasons. He is the only player in NPB history to throw no-hitters in back-to-back seasons and win three consecutive triple crowns.
There’s a reason this young gun caused such a fierce bidding war.
Indeed, Yamamoto’s deal with the Dodgers will pay him $325 million over 12 years, shattering the previous record for an overseas free agent. By total value, it is the largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history, surpassing Gerrit Cole’s nine-year, $324 million pact by $1 million. And keep in mind, the Dodgers also have to pay a $50.6 million posting fee to Yamamoto’s former team, the Orix Buffaloes.
Also of note: Unlike Ohtani’s mega-deal, this contract does not involve any deferrals. In fact, Yamamoto will earn $50 million as a signing bonus up front.
The Yankees reportedly offered $300 million over ten years, a slightly higher annual salary, but Yamamoto opted for a record-setting number with the Dodgers instead. It’s not hard to see why.
If a pitcher is going to sign on with any franchise through his age-36 season, the Dodgers are an excellent choice.
The Dodgers now boast one of the best starting rotations in baseball, led by a three-headed monster of Yamamoto, Glasnow, and Walker Buehler. Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan will hold up the rear, but don’t be surprised if the Dodgers make some more acquisitions between now and Opening Day. Needless to say, Clayton Kershaw is one big name to keep an eye on.
L.A. has approximately $15 million to spend before surpassing the most punitive threshold of the luxury tax (per Roster Resource). That could be their soft cap, but at the rate they’re spending right now, this team’s budget is anyone’s guess.
The Dodgers are officially pulling out all the stops to build a super team. And while baseball is never, ever easy to predict, the L.A. Dodgers are already looking like World Series favorites for years to come.
Update: Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the deal will include two opt-outs.