There has been unprecedented interest among MLB teams for Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, his agent said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters online, Joel Wolfe said between 11 and 14 teams have expressed interest in the 25-year-old right-hander, a figure he said that exceeded interest in previous Japanese professionals on the free agent market.
"This is by far the player with the most interested teams that I have ever seen at the beginning of free agency," Wolfe said.
The 178-centimeter Yamamoto has dominated Japan's Pacific League for the last three years, and is expected to sign a deal worth at least $200 million.
According to Wolfe, Yamamoto has expressed no reservations about sharing the spotlight on a team with other Japanese stars, and is willing to play anywhere.
The agent said his client's market is fueled by extreme demand within MLB for quality starting pitchers that makes a player with Yamamoto's established quality and age a priority for many teams.
"It's what we call a perfect storm, where you have one of the finest young pitchers in the world who also is just 25 years old," Wolfe said. "It's generational. Something like this only happens once every 10 or 15 years."
Yamamoto, who has won three straight Eiji Sawamura Awards as Japan's most impressive starting pitcher, has led the PL in strikeouts, ERA, wins and winning percentage the past three seasons.
Yamamoto, whom the Orix Buffaloes have made available via the posting system, will have 45 days to negotiate a deal, a period that started Tuesday. Should no deal emerge, he will return to the three-time defending PL champions for 2024.