Report: Yoshinobu Yamamoto's opt-outs tied to elbow health

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

NEW YORK -- Yoshinobu Yamamoto will have two opportunities to opt out of his record $325 million, 12-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, although the timing is tied to his pitching elbow's health.

If Yamamoto has Tommy John surgery or is on the injured list for a right elbow injury for 134 consecutive service days from 2024 to '29, he would have the right to opt out after the 2031 and 2033 World Series, according to terms of the deal obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

If he avoids Tommy John surgery and doesn't miss that much time with an elbow issue during that window, he can instead opt out after the 2029 and 2031 World Series.

In the first scenario, the Dodgers would gain a $10 million conditional option for 2036 with no buyout.

Yamamoto does not have the right to block trades but could opt out of the contract after the end of any season in which he is traded.

Los Angeles announced the agreement two weeks after signing two-way star Shohei Ohtani to a record $700 million, 10-year contract.

Yamamoto has salaries of $5 million this year, $10 million in 2025 and $12 million in 2026, according to the deal announced Dec. 27. He gets $26 million each in 2027, 2028 and 2029, $29 million in each of the following two seasons and $28 million from 2032-35.

As part of the deal under the posting system between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, the Dodgers will pay a posting fee of $50,625,000 to the Orix Buffaloes of Japan's Pacific League, raising the cost of acquiring Yamamoto to just over $375 million. Yamamoto will get $20 million of his $50 million signing bonus by Feb. 1 and the remainder by July 1.

If he is traded after a World Series, he would have the right to opt out in the subsequent offseason.

His contract includes a full-time interpreter, personal trainer and physical therapist. Yamamoto gets a hotel suite on road trips and five round-trip airline tickets each year.

He cannot be assigned to the minor leagues without his consent.

Yamamoto's contract is for $1 million more than Gerrit Cole's $324 million, nine-year contract with the New York Yankees from 2020 to '28. It is the longest deal for a pitcher, topping Wayne Garland's $2.3 million, 10-year agreement with Cleveland in November 1976 as part of the first free agent class.

In the end, the Dodgers made the biggest splurge a team has ever made on a pitcher (at least one who isn't also a 40-homer hitter, like Yamamoto's new teammate, Ohtani). They did this for a 5-foot-10, 176-pound, 25-year-old righty who has never thrown an inning in the major leagues.

The Yankees proposed a $300 million, 10-year contract but would not go any longer, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the offers were not publicly announced.

Los Angeles has been baseball's biggest spender this offseason, committing $1,212,187,500 to Ohtani, Yamamoto and pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who agreed to a $136,562,500, five-year contract as part of his trade from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yamamoto was 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA last season, striking out 169 and walking 28 in 164 innings. He was 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA in seven seasons with the Buffaloes. Yamamoto struck out a Japan Series-record 14 in a Game 6 win over Hanshin on Nov. 5, throwing a 138-pitch complete game. Orix went on to lose Game 7.

Yamamoto pitched his second career no-hitter, the 100th in Japanese big league history, on Sept. 9 for the Buffaloes against the Chiba Lotte Marines. A two-time Pacific League MVP, Yamamoto also threw a no-hitter against the Saitama Seibu Lions on June 18 last year.

Under the MLB-NPB agreement, the posting fee will be 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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