Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman. How can a sales team pitch to coveted Japanese free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto?
All three stars were present Tuesday at the Dodgers’ pitch to the right-hander at Dodger Stadium, according to two people familiar with the details of the meeting.
Yamamoto’s offer was clear on the face of it. When the free agent took the field, video projections depicting his name and likeness in a Dodgers uniform appeared on the scoreboard. Yamamoto is one of the most sought-after talents in the sport, with the Mets, Yankees, Giants, Blue Jays, Red Sox and others all vying for his services. For at least several hours on Tuesday, the Dodgers’ push included some star power.
Betts, whom Yamamoto is said to be fond of as a player, was in attendance. So was Freeman, a fellow MVP nominee who represented the franchise’s highest-ever free agent until this week. There was also his potential future catcher, Will Smith. But the most notable name was the newest Dodger, who will be formally introduced at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Ohtani, Yamamoto’s teammate on the Japanese Samurai team during the World Baseball Classic last spring, attended the meeting. Just two weeks ago, he was on the other end of such a reception, which Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said included no players and instead focused on reinforcing what Ohtani already knew about the franchise.
It worked: Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million deal had just become official the night before and included an unprecedented structure that deferred 97 percent of his salary until the end of the contract, as The athlete Written this week. It was a deal, those familiar with its details said, and it was Ohtani’s idea. He was meant to use him for this very reason: to be able to continue spending and adding talent around him.
Now, he and the rest of the Dodgers’ newly minted three stars were among those looking to woo Yamamoto. The market for the 25-year-old right-hander has skyrocketed in recent weeks as he could be the rare pitcher worth $200 million (or higher) by the time he makes his decision this month. However, the Dodgers, who have already doled out nearly $718 million in guaranteed salaries this winter, are still in the mix. Deferring Ohtani’s contract is expected to result in an annual luxury tax of up to $46 million, but the club is expected to fall short of the first threshold of penalties.
Since the Dodgers will pay only $2 million to Ohtani next season and will not need to start setting aside deferment payments for two seasons, the Dodgers are in a good position to absorb the posting fee that would accompany the nine-figure contract they would sign if they land Yamamoto. like The athlete The posting fee on a hypothetical $300 million contract would be $46.9 million, essentially in line with what the club would have to secure annually to defer payments to Ohtani starting in 2026, he wrote Wednesday.
And as The athlete Will Sammon wrote in October that Yamamoto “is believed to have an open mind about the possibility of playing alongside another Japanese player.”
So the Dodgers remain at the top of the market, both trying to entice Yamamoto and working on the trade front, sources said. The athlete The Dodgers are working on a deal with the Rays to acquire right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot in exchange for right-hander Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca. No deal has been finalized.
The Dodgers already have an enviable trio. Even with Otani in the fold, they don’t stop.
(Photo by Yoshinobu Yamamoto: Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
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