New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman gives a thumbs-up after the conclusion of Major League Baseball's general manager meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Nov. 9, 2023. (Kyodo)

The Japanese pitchers moving to and within Major League Baseball this winter were of considerable interest to executives gathered for this year's general managers meetings that wrapped up Thursday.

Chief among those players are the free agency of Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and the impending posting of Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto in what is expected to be a starting pitchers seller's market.

Yamamoto, a 25-year-old, 178-centimeter right-hander, has won the last three Sawamura Awards as Japan's most impressive starting pitcher, and went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA over 164 innings this year.

Farhan Zaidi, the San Francisco Giants' president of baseball operations, speaks to reporters at Major League Baseball's general managers meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Nov. 8, 2023. (Kyodo)

"There has a been a lot of talk around the game about the relative scarcity of pitchers who can go deep into games," said Farhan Zaidi, the San Francisco Giants' president of baseball operations. "So when guys are available who can give you 150, 200 innings, there's a real premium on that."

Although Ohtani is not planning to return to the pitcher's mound until 2025 after having elbow surgery this year, the demand for him is likely to remain high, said San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller.

"He (Ohtani) is an unbelievable talent," Preller said. "From afar, seeing, knowing, hearing about work ethic, what he's all about, attention to detail, my guess is he's going to come back (from elbow surgery) and do really special things."

Jerry Dipoto, the Seattle Mariners' president of baseball operations, said he expected Yamamoto to be in high demand as well.

"He's an exceptional talent," Dipoto said. "He's played on the biggest stages in international play and an excellent career in his time in Japan, and someone is going be very fortunate to have him come and sit at the top or near the top of their rotation."


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