The Dodgers signed NPB star Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325MM deal that set the record for the largest pitching guarantee. That included a pair of opt-out chances for the 25-year-old righty. He could be in line for an even loftier deal a few years down the line if he continues to perform like a top-of-the-rotation starter against MLB competition.
Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic first reported that Yamamoto would be able to opt out of the contract after the 2029 and ’31 seasons. According to the Associated Press, that’s in part conditional on the pitcher’s arm health in the first six years of the deal. If Yamamoto undergoes Tommy John surgery or spends 134+ consecutive days on the injured list with a right elbow concern between 2024-29, his opt-out chances would be delayed until following the 2031 and ’33 seasons. In the absence of that significant of an elbow injury, he’d be able to opt out after 2029 and ’31 as initially reported.
Interestingly, the contract also includes an opt-out provision designed to keep him from being traded. The AP reports that if the Dodgers trade Yamamoto, that would vest an opt-out clause that’d allow him to become a free agent at the end of that season. While it’s not true no-trade protection, it makes it very difficult to deal him. Any acquiring team would have to account for the possibility that Yamamoto leaves the following winter.
Of course, the Dodgers didn’t sign Yamamoto with any intention of trading him in the foreseeable future. They’re going to be all-in for years to come, likely for the entire duration of Shohei Ohtani’s decade-long contract. Ohtani’s willingness to defer $68MM of his $70MM annual salaries afforded the organization more short-term leeway to acquire and extend Tyler Glasnow and to sign Yamamoto.
Yamamoto’s contract contains a massive $50MM signing bonus. The AP reports that he’ll be paid $20MM by the start of February and the other $30MM by July 1. His annual salary structure breaks down as follows:
- $5MM in 2024
- $10MM in 2025
- $12MM in 2026
- $26MM annually from 2027-29
- $29MM annually from 2030-31
- $28MM annually from 2032-35
He’ll thus be paid $155MM over the next six seasons. If he doesn’t incur a serious elbow injury, he’d be weighing whether to opt out of six years and $170MM once the 2029-30 offseason arrives. Were Yamamoto to suffer an elbow injury within the first six years and opt in after the 2031 and ’33 seasons, the Dodgers receive a $10MM option (no buyout) covering the 2036 season, the AP reports.
The salary breakdown does not affect the contract’s average annual value. The deal counts for approximately $27.08MM each year from a luxury tax perspective. The Dodgers also owe a $50.625MM posting fee to Yamamoto’s former team, the Orix Buffaloes, though that is separate from the CBT calculation.