Shohei Ohtani has been a Los Angeles Dodger for just a couple days, but his new team is already putting him to work. Star Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto is next on L.A.’s offseason wishlist, and when the two sides met in person on Tuesday, the Dodgers put together quite the recruiting party — highlighted by Ohtani, Yamamoto’s friend and former Team Japan rotationmate.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman were also present for Los Angeles’ pitch to the 25-year-old righty, according to a report from The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya:
“The pitch to Yamamoto was, on its face, straightforward. As the free agent entered the ballpark, video displays depicting his name and likeness in a Dodgers uniform flashed on the scoreboard.
Betts, whom Yamamoto is said to be fond of as a player, was in attendance. So was Freeman, the fellow MVP candidate who represented the franchise’s biggest-ever free-agent splash until this week. There was also his potential future catcher, Will Smith. But the most notable name was the newest Dodger, who will be officially introduced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. Ohtani, Yamamoto’s teammate with Samurai Japan during last spring’s World Baseball Classic, attended the meeting.
That’s a whole lot of star power in one place. But will it be enough to land arguably the most sought-after talent in the sport right now? Yamamoto’s age (just 25) and frontline stuff have vaulted him to the top of the market this winter, and every big market — from both New York teams to the Dodgers to the Giants to the Cubs and beyond — is rumored to be involved. The righty is taking this week to meet with teams in person, and it’s unclear when a decision might finally be made.
Ohtani, however, is quite the trump card. Yamamoto has a great deal of respect for the two-way star, and Ardaya reports that he’s “open” to playing with another Japanese player. The righty is rumored to be interested in playing for a large media market, with Los Angeles can certainly provide, and he’d be hard-pressed to find a better bet for short- and long-term contention than the Dodgers.