Dodgers agree to monster deal with Japanese pitching sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the most coveted free agent arm this winter, is signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to two high-ranking officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

The officials spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet official.

Yamamoto will be signing a 12-year, $325 million deal with L.A. that includes a $50 million signing bonus. It's the second monster signing the Dodgers have made this offseason, following Shohei Ohtani's historic $700 million deal. Unlike Ohtani's contract, there are no deferrals in Yamamoto's deal.

The New York Yankees offered Yamamoto $300 million over 10 years.

The 25-year-old right-hander has dominated in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes, posting ERAs of 1.39, 1.68 and 1.16 over the past three seasons. That dominance won him three consecutive Pacific League MVPs and Eiji Sawamura Awards – Japan's version of the Cy Young – in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto helped Japan win the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto helped Japan win the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

After making his debut days after his 19th birthday in 2017, Yamamoto went 75-30 with a 1.72 ERA over seven seasons with Orix. Yamamoto's final appearance in Japan was a 138-pitch complete game with 14 strikeouts in Game 6 of the Japan Series, keeping his team alive by forcing a Game 7.

Yamamoto made two appearances in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, giving up two earned runs with 12 strikeouts.

Yamamoto was posted by the Orix Buffaloes in November, beginning a 45-day window for MLB teams to sign him that would have expired on Jan. 4.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitch speed, scouting report

Yamamoto's fastball sits in the high-90s and his splitter and curveball have been graded at an elite level by talent evaluators. His cutter could use work, but his command was excellent in Japan, averaging just 1.5 walks per nine innings in 2023.

Like all Japanese pitchers making the leap across the Pacific, Yamamoto will have to adjust to a different ball (lower seams in MLB) and a new regiment, namely starting once every five games rather than once a week.

At 5-foot-10 and about 180 pounds, Yamamoto will be on the smaller side of starting pitchers in MLB.

Contributing: Jace Evans

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing with Dodgers: What we know about $325M deal