Rosenthal: How does Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s free agency compare to previous Japanese pitchers

Recency bias creates the impression that Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s pursuit is the most intense recruiting Japanese pitcher we have seen. The sheer number of big-market teams dealing with Yamamoto certainly qualifies his free agency as unusual. But the excitement surrounding the right-hander isn’t all that different from the excitement generated by Daisuke Matsuzaka during the 2006-07 season, Yu Darvish during the 2011-12 season, and Masahiro Tanaka during the 2013-14 season. In this regard, Shohei Ohtani during 2017-2018.

Ohtani clearly falls into a separate category, and not just because he’s a two-way player. He was 23 when he signed, limiting his bonus under international amateur signing rules to $2.3 million. The best comparisons to Yamamoto are Matsuzaka, Darvish and Tanaka, who have not faced any salary caps.

Like Yamamoto, Darvish and Tanaka were entering their age-25 season. Matsuzaka was a little older, entering his campaign at 26 years old. Looking back, as the bidding for Yamamoto intensifies, their experiences in the major leagues can be viewed as at least somewhat beneficial.

like The athleteJason Stark and Eno Sarris have shown in separate articles that the objective information available on Yamamoto, from pitch assessment to biomechanical analysis, is far more comprehensive than it was for any of his predecessors. However, nothing is guaranteed.

Matsuzaka, who joined the Boston Red Sox on a six-year, $52 million contract after the team acquired his rights for a posting fee of $51.11 million, made 61 appearances in his first two seasons with Boston, and 55 games in his final four. His injuries included torn ligaments in the elbow, which required Tommy John surgery. His adjusted ERA with the Red Sox was barely above league average, and after his contract expired he spent two regular seasons with the New York Mets.

Darvish, who joined the Texas Rangers on a six-year deal worth $56 million plus a posting fee of $51.7 million, is perhaps the most successful of all Japanese pitchers, a two-time Cy Young Award runner-up and five all-time winners. The star is entering his 12th season in the major league. He’s also had elbow issues, requiring Tommy John surgery in 2015, arthroscopic elbow surgery in 2018 and a lockout caused by a stress reaction at the end of 2023. But his career adjusted ERA is 17 percent higher than the league average. Zach Greinke, a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame, had a higher rating of 21%.

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Tanaka, who joined the New York Yankees on a seven-year, $155 million free agent deal, also enjoyed a successful major league career, even after being diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament in his first season. He avoided surgery, and averaged 27 games in his six full seasons before the shortened 2020 campaign. According to FanGraphs’ dollar metric, which is WAR converted to a dollar metric based on what a player will earn in free agency, Tanaka’s performance on his contract was slightly outperformed by his performance in the regular season. He was also a stalwart in the postseason, producing a 3.33 ERA in 10 starts.

At his best, even Matsuzaka showed why he was promoted — in his second season, he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and led the majors in opponent batting average. However, even Darvish’s entire body of work shows the danger of giving a 10-year contract or more to Yamamoto, who has never pitched in the majors and, although very athletic, is only 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds. However, major league executives don’t seem to be deterred by his small stature.

Yamamoto, based on intense competition in the open market, could more than double Tanaka’s contract, not including publishing fees that could exceed $50 million. The hype surrounding it is almost certainly justified. The decisions teams make today are more informed than ever before. Just know that he’s not the first 25-year-old Japanese pitcher to create this kind of excitement, and he won’t be the last.

Next up, sometime in the next several years: Ruki Sasaki, 22 years old.

The Brewers are still figuring out what to do with Corbin Burns. (Wendell Cruz/USA Today)

What to do with Burns

Whether the Milwaukee Brewers are willing to trade right-hander Corbin Burnes remains unclear. But there’s a possibility the team could carry Burns into the season because of owner Mark Attanasio’s desire to compete and avoid the kind of backlash the team received for trading Josh Hader at the 2022 deadline, according to major league sources familiar with the team’s thinking. .

If the Brewers fail to contend, they could move Burns at the 2024 deadline and get a similar or perhaps better return, as long as he stays healthy. The problem right now for teams open to starting trades is that many free agents are still available. Of those, only Blake Snell would require losing a draft pick. Other competitors only cost money, enabling teams to maintain their picks and projections.

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It also reduces the Brewers’ chances of making a big return: Burns does He is expected to earn $15.1 million In his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. Unlike Tyler Glasnow, who was traded last week from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Los Angeles Dodgers, teams see him as unlikely to sign an extension. Burns’ agent, Scott Boras, generally prefers that his clients establish their values ​​on the open market. Glasnow is represented by Wasserman Media Group, which has historically been more open to such deals.

Attanasio might then think: Why is he doing this? Why don’t you try competing first? The Brewers have proven adept at maximizing limited resources, making the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. However, all of those postseason appearances came under Craig Counsell as manager. Which, come to think of it, might be another reason for Attanasio to catch Burns and, for that matter, stop shortstop Willie Adams. The owner would certainly want the best advisor, who pulled out for the rival Chicago Cubs.

The problem with keeping Burns is that he could get injured before the deadline or his performance might decline. If the Brewers claim, trades for Burns and Adams seem out of the question for an organization still reeling from the fallout from Hader. So for Burns, Adams and Brandon Woodruff, who were not offered shoulder surgery, the Brewers could end up with just two picks — one if they decline to make Adames a qualifying offer.

Proactive, low-revenue teams like the Rays and Cleveland Guardians are rarely caught in these situations. They’re trying to act sooner rather than later, which is exactly what the Brewers did with Hader, who they ended up netting for William Contreras and the highly regarded Robert Gasser.

Maybe the best way to look at it is this: What would the Brewers’ NL Central rivals prefer to do? Fortify the club for the long term by replacing Burns or Adams with players who might add to the young talent in the squad? Or take one last shot with Burns and Adams in 2024, then lose one or both for just draft picks?

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The answer seems clear. But for Attanasio, the choice may not be easy.

Inequality in the reward pool before Arabic?

The pre-arbitration bonus pool is intended to provide additional compensation to players with zero to three years of service. But in 2023, the system’s second year, a chunk of the money went to players who were already well-compensated.

According to the numbers Obtained by The Associated PressThree of the four highest performance-based bonuses were given to players signed to long-term extensions – Julio Rodriguez ($210 million), Corbin Carroll ($111 million) and Spencer Stryder ($75 million). Together, the three received an additional $5,370,519, representing more than 10 percent of the $50 million total.

Why not exclude players with long-term guarantees from the pool, allowing money to be distributed to players who lack such security? The union sought to do so in the latest round of collective bargaining, according to sources familiar with the discussions. The union believes money from the bonus pool may help discourage 0-3 from signing below-market extensions.

The league refused to fulfill the federation’s request, considering that the player who receives the bonus must receive it, regardless of his contractual status. Additions for 0-3 players generally involve low salaries in the early years, with big money arriving later. However, Rodriguez and Carroll received signing bonuses of $15 million and $5 million, respectively (Strider’s deal did not include a signing bonus).

It is highly unlikely that there will be adjustments to the way the money is distributed during the current comprehensive partnership agreement, which runs until December 1, 2026. But the union is certain in the next round of bargaining to renew its attempt to increase the size of the pool from $50 million. . If 0-3 long collateral holders continue to receive the highest rewards, it may be appropriate to reconsider how the funds are distributed.

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(Top photo by Yamamoto: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

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