Even by their lofty standards, this offseason was a protracted victory lap for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Flexing their considerable financial might, the Dodgers not only signed two-time AL MVP designated hitter and pitcher Shohei Ohtani—they lured star Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to Chavez Ravine as well.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles’s new hurler addressed reporters for the first time and made a surprising revelation about his free agency.
“I wouldn’t say he was the sole reason I decided to come here,” Yamamoto said of Ohtani, through an interpreter. “Even if he went somewhere else, I probably still would’ve ended up in LA as a Dodger. On top that, though, Shohei is not only one of the best Japanese players, but one of the best players—period—in all MLB.”
Yoshinobu Yamamoto says he would've "probably still ended up in L.A. as a Dodger" even if Shohei Ohtani didn't sign with them pic.twitter.com/NlmiZh0NVk
— SNY (@SNYtv) December 27, 2023
Yamamoto comes to North America after a stellar seven-year career with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes, during which he went 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA and 922 strikeouts. He was courted during free agency by the Dodgers, the New York Yankees, the New York Mets and numerous other teams.
Ohtani and Yamamoto were teammates on the Japanese national squad in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, helping their country win its third edition of the tournament.