The search for Japan’s top right-handers has begun in earnest, with Zoom meetings, U.S. departures, and a decision before Christmas.

“Japan’s top pitcher” Yoshinobu Yamamoto is expected to sign with a Major League Baseball team next week.

“Yamamoto will start meeting with clubs next week,” Japan’s Full Count reported on June 26 (JST). Negotiations will begin in earnest.”

Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR), a major source of trade news in Major League Baseball, reported, “The first step will be a series of phone calls and Zoom meetings with all interested teams. Yamamoto is then expected to arrive in the United States for in-person meetings and further negotiations with the shortlisted teams. That would be after the Winter Meetings (Dec. 4-7).” “Yamamoto’s posting period runs through Jan. 4, but he’s ‘not expected to need that much time’ to decide on a contract, SNY’s Andy Martino reports. Obviously, there’s a lot of flexibility in the timeline, but tentatively, a decision could be made between mid-December and Christmas.”

Currently, Yamamoto is the most sought-after name in Major League Baseball’s free agent market, behind only Shohei Ohtani. Yamamoto won four Pacific League Pitcher of the Year awards and the regular season MVP in 2021, winning the Sawamura Award for the best pitcher in both leagues. This year, he continued his stellar play. In 23 games, he went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA. 

Behind Yamamoto’s performance, the Orix won the Pacific League title and headed into fall baseball. After giving up five runs in seven innings in Game 1 of the Climax Series Final Stage against the Chiba Lotte Marines and seven runs in 5⅔ innings in Game 1 of the Japan Series against the Hanshin Tigers, Yamamoto rebounded with a complete-game victory in Game 6 of the Japan Series, throwing 138 pitches in nine innings, allowing one run on nine hits (one home run) with one walk and 14 strikeouts. Down 2-0 in the series, the Orix used Yamamoto’s perfect game to tie the series at 3-3. However, the Oryx fell to the Hanshin Tigers 1-7 in Game 7 of the Japan Series on May 5, finishing as Japan Series runners-up. 

Yamamoto will win the Pitcher of the Year award for an unprecedented third consecutive year and the Sawamura Award. He is also a favorite to win MVP for the third straight year. 보스토토 도메인

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