Are the Dodgers trying to create a pipeline for Japanese players to Major League Baseball?
This question has been discussed numerous times this offseason as the Dodgers have landed the two best Japanese players on the free agent market, and two of the best players/prospects to ever come out of Japan.
It all started when the team signed two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million deal. But it didn’t stop there. The Dodgers then signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract, the longest and largest deal for a pitcher in MLB history.
These players will help the Dodgers win for the next decade, as they hope to bring multiple World Series championships to Los Angeles. But the on-field impact is far from the only value they’ll bring to L.A.
Yamamoto is one of the biggest stars in Japan, while Ohtani is the biggest star in Japan. With both players on the same team, it’s safe to assume millions of people in Japan will become Dodger fans.
That doesn’t only mean the Dodgers will sell tons of merchandise in a huge international market, but they also could find tons of talent from one of the largest pools of international talent in the world — Team Japan just won the World Baseball Classic in 2023.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently spoke with Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and was asked about L.A. becoming a pipeline for Japanese players. He spoke candidly about the impact of Ohtani and Yamamoto.
“This signing, from our standpoint, was about the level of talent that we added and the effect it has on our championship odds. But a really helpful aspect of this deal is the potential tail of value of kids growing up [in Japan] being passionate Dodger fans, turning into really good players in the NPB [Nippon Professional Baseball], and then in an ideal world wanting to be a Dodger when they come over to play Major League Baseball.”
Via New York Post
Sherman asked this same question to Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes earlier this offseason, and he had a similar answer, although less direct.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a genius to see what the Dodgers are building. They are putting themselves in position to reel in tons of talent from Japan for the foreseeable future, and that future could start as soon as next season, when top prospect Roki Sasaki could be posted from the NPB.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports