The Chicago Cubs are going to have plenty of money to spend in free agency following the 2023 season and Jed Hoyer is going to see for himself if they want to aggressively pursue Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Hoyer is going to Japan to watch Yamamoto’s next start with the Orix Buffaloes.
Yamamoto, 25, is expected to sign a contract worth more than $200 million once he’s made available in the offseason. He is a legit ace and pretty much every single team in baseball is going to have some level of interest in the star pitcher. Back in August, Jon Heyman reported that the Cubs were one of several teams that had scouts in attendance and now Hoyer is headed across the Pacific Ocean to see Yamamoto pitch in person.
The 25-year-old pitcher is in the midst of his third consecutive sub-2 ERA season pitching for the Orix Buffaloes. Yamamoto has been compared to Masahiro Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2014.
Yamamoto struck out eight batters in his last start, tossing a no-hitter against Chiba Lotte Marines.
The right-handed pitcher has 1.84 ERA in seven seasons pitching professionally in Japan.
The most recent comparison to Yamamoto is Kodai Senga, who ended up signing a five-year deal with the New York Mets worth $75 million last offseason. Senga has been great in his first year in MLB, posting a 3.07 ERA while striking out 181 batters in 149.1 innings so far in 2023. Well, Yamamoto is not only five years younger than Senga, he’s also been better in Japan than Senga was before signing with the Mets.
The Cubs will be in the starting pitching market this offseason and they’ll have several big-name pitchers to pick from. If you’re a Cubs fan, you certainly hope that they’ll become serious contenders to sign Yamamoto.