Yoshinobu Yamamoto 'ecstatic' to join Ohtani and the Dodgers

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto 'ecstatic' to join Ohtani and the Dodgers

Yamamoto at Dodger Stadium
Yamamoto at Dodger Stadium Reuters
Japanese pitching sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto said the Dodgers' desire to win is why he chose Los Angeles over the other teams perusing him, and getting to join countryman Shohei Ohtani only sweetened the deal.

The right-hander signed a 12-year, $325 million contract with the Dodgers last week that will see the 25-year-old receive the most guaranteed money ever given to a pitcher. The club also paid more than $50 million to his former Nippon Professional Baseball team to pry him away.

"I am beyond ecstatic to become a member of this historic franchise," Yamamoto said in English at a press conference at Dodger Stadium before responding to questions through an interpreter.

"I cannot express how much it means to me to be able to call Los Angeles my new home."

Yamamoto was named the top pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball for the last three seasons in which he won the pitching triple crown each year, meaning he led the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

He won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and helped Japan to victory at the World Baseball Classic this year.

Yamamoto stood on the same stage and sang a similar tune about winning as Ohtani did earlier this month when the dual-threat superstar held his introductory press conference.

Ohtani said he prioritized winning too and put his money where his mouth is, deferring 97% of his 10-year, $700 million contract for a decade to enable the Dodgers to sign top-tier talent like Yamamoto.

"Through my talks with the front office it was really clear that they wanted to win," Yamamoto said.

"But on top of that, the fact that Shohei was doing that signalled that it wasn't only the front office, it was the players that bought into this winning atmosphere as well.

"That really resonated with me."

Yamamoto said coming to Dodger Stadium as a teenager to see Japanese great Kenta Maeda pitch a play-off game drew him to MLB and the team.

"That game really made me feel strongly about wanting to come overseas to play in the big leagues," he said.

Expectations will be sky-high for the Dodgers, who followed their 2020 World Series triumph with three straight 100-win seasons that ended in post-season flops.

"From today moving forward, I promise to all the fans in LA to focus my everything to become a better player and to become a world champion as a member of the Dodgers," he said.

"I will stop simply admiring the players I have looked up to and strive to become the player others want to become."

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