Dodgers Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto to Complete Full Heel Turn

Los Angeles has committed more than $1.2 billion for three players this offseason

Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitches for Team Japan.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the newest member of the Dodgers.
Eric Espada/Getty

With their organization spending like drunken sailors on leave in Las Vegas the way New York’s Evil Empire used to, the players who don Dodger Blue in 2024 will be the new Black Hats of Major League Baseball. The Dodgers, who made the playoffs for 11 straight years but only won the World Series during the asterisk-y 2020 season, pushed their offseason spending to more than $1.2 billion when they signed star Japanese righthander Yoshinobu Yamamoto a 12-year, $325 million contract on Thursday night. The largest guaranteed deal for a pitcher in MLB history, Yamamoto’s contract contains a subtle shot at the previous Evil Empire, as it will pay the 25-year-old $1 million more than Gerrit Cole received from the Yankees when he signed with New York.

The Dodgers’ deal with Yamamoto, which includes a posting fee of $50.625 million to Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, comes on the heels of the team signing Shohei Ohtani to a record 10-year, $700 million contract and giving ex-Tampa ace Tyler Glasnow a five-year, $135 million contract extension after acquiring him from the Rays via trade. Those three players, who will theoretically be MLB’s best rotation in 2025 when two-way star Ohtani is able to return to the mound, join a roster that already includes MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

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Despite the ridiculous offseason spending, which may pay off even if LA’s super team never wins a World Series, the Dodgers are somehow just ninth in MLB in projected payroll ($154,100,000) for the 2024 season, according to Spotrac. The Mets, who are on the hook for about $50 million for players who are no longer on the team, are first in project spending in ’24 at $225,471,859.

The biggest reason why the Dodgers’ payroll is so low, comparatively, is that Ohtani’s record-breaking contract is only paying him $2 million per year for the duration of his contract; he agreed to defer $68 million annually in order to give LA more room to sign players without hitting the luxury tax threshold. Though the Dodgers could have acquired and paid Yamamoto and Glasnow either way, Ohtani agreeing to defer almost all of his money made it much easier for the Dodgers to add the duo of star pitchers.

Although their projected payroll for 2024 doesn’t necessarily reflect it, the Dodgers are doing what the Yankees and, to a lesser extent the Red Sox, used to do and outspending the competition in pursuit of a World Series title. If history is any indication, it’s a strategy that’s just as likely to be successful as it is to blow up in ownership’s face and leave the Dodgers with a collection of high-priced assets instead of a complete team.

Either way, the Dodgers have made it pretty clear that they’re willing to try and buy a championship — and it might work.

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