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Do the Los Angeles Dodgers have upper hand in adding top MLB free agent?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been linked to star two-way player Shohei Ohtani during the early stages of MLB free agency.

But it looks like the defending National League West champions are also looking to add to their injury-riddled rotation.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that there is a “sizzling” market for Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who will end up being posted this week. The MLB insider also notes that the Dodgers are among the most active in the market for the 25-year-old right-handed pitcher.

It makes sense with Los Angeles’ rotation very much in flux given the unknown status of future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Fellow starters Lance Lynn and Julio Urias are also free agents while Walker Buehler is coming off a second career Tommy John Surgery.

While it’s just a rumor, Jon Heyman of the NY Post indicates that several people believe Yamamoto prefers the west coast as a landing spot.

“Put this under rumor for now because we don’t know, I haven’t been able to confirm this and I don’t think the agent is going to confirm it one way or the other, but there are some people who believe Yamamoto has a bit of a preference for the West Coast,” Heyman said on Wednesday.

Related: Yoshinobu Yamamoto and the top MLB free agents

Los Angeles Dodgers as a favorite to land Yoshinobu Yamamoto

los angeles dodgers rumors: yoshinobu yamamoto
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The youngster is likely looking at a record-breaking contract that will pay him north of $200 million. His track record of success in Japan speaks for itself and likely means a smooth transition to Major League Baseball.

He’s a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball (highest level of baseball in Japan), a two-time MVP winner, a three-time Japanese Triple Crown winner while being named the NPB’s best pitcher three times. He’s also the first pitcher in NPB history to toss a no-hitter in consecutive seasons.

He’s said to have a 97 mile-per-hour fastball with three other plus-level pitches (cutter, curveball and splitter). That’s ace stuff right there.

  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto stats (Japan): 75-30 record, 1.72 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.2 strikeout per nine

As for the Dodgers, their rotation was injury-plagued a season ago. Not a single member of the Los Angeles’ rotation started as many as 25 games with Kershaw leading the way (24).

We already know that the Dodgers have no issue spending money. The question here is what they’d prefer moving forward.

The class of MLB free agency this winter is obviously the aforementioned Ohtani. But pitching was a larger issue for the Dodgers after they fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Divisional Playoffs.

Given what Yamamoto projects to at the MLB level, this might actually be the Dodgers’ top target. We’ll find out soon enough.

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