Yoshinobu Yamamoto already had an incredible 2022 on the mound. His 2023 is going to be even better from a financial standpoint.
According to the Japan Times, Yamamoto has signed a one year deal with the Buffaloes for 650 million yen, the equivalent of $4.9 million. That deal sets a new franchise record for the largest contract handed out by the Buffaloes, surpassing the 600 million yen deal given to Chihiro Kaneko in 2018.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto getting one final payday from Orix Buffaloes
After earning just 370 million yen last year, Yamamoto is getting a significant pay raise. It is also a well deserved one as he won his second consecutive MVP and Sawamura awards last season.
He certainly deserved that hardware based on his performance last season. Yamamoto posted a 15-5 record with a 1.68 ERA and a 0.927 WHiP over his 193 innings, striking out 205 batters with 42 walks. He won the Pacific League pitching Triple Crown while also leading the league in winning percentage as he became the first pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history to lead those four categories in consecutive seasons.
It is also fair to wonder if this is going to be his final season in Japan. There are rumblings that multiple major league teams, including the Yankees, are already keeping tabs on the Buffaloes ace for when he gets posted. That moment could happen as soon as next year as Yamamoto turns 25 years old during the season, taking him out of the bonus pool for international players and allowing him to receive a much larger contract. At the same time, the Buffaloes would receive a larger payout to relinquish his services. Their investment in him this season could be repaid many times over.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be the highest paid player in Orix Buffaloes history in 2023. This may be a precursor for the 2023-24 offseason.