Who is Yoshinobu Yamamoto? Meet the Japanese star who's entering MLB free agency

Yamamoto could start for just about any of the 30 MLB teams out of the gate

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Shohei Ohtani is commanding all of the attention this MLB offseason -- and rightfully so -- but there's another talent worthy of grabbing the headlines.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a teammate of Ohtani's with the Japan national baseball team, is about to enter the majors after thriving in the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB).

The young pitcher just has to be posted by MLB, which would then give all 30 franchises a 45-day period to attempt to sign him. He doesn't have to wait out the period before agreeing to terms with a team, but the competition is expected to be fierce.

It's a similar situation to last offseason when Masataka Yoshida entered the majors before joining the Boston Red Sox.

So, who is Yamamoto and why is he highly coveted? Here's what to know:

Where is Yoshinobu Yamamoto from?

Yamamoto is from Bizen, Okayama, Japan. As of 2020, the city in the Okayama prefecture was estimated to have a population just north of 42,000.

How old is Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

Yamamoto is 25 years old. He was born on Aug. 17, 1998.

Where does Yoshinobu Yamamoto play?

Yamamoto plays for NPB side Orix Buffaloes in Japan. He made his debut with the team in 2017 and has since ascended to stardom.

He also represents the Japan national team. He made his first appearance in 2019 before becoming a regular, and he played a vital role in helping his nation win the 2023 World Baseball Classic versus Team USA.

What position does Yoshinobu Yamamoto play?

Yamamoto is a starting pitcher. He has a fastball, curveball, splitter and cutter in his arsenal. His fastball has an average speed of 95 mph.

What is Yoshinobu Yamamoto's stats?

Through the 2023 NPB season, Yamamoto has a win-loss record of 70-29, a 1.82 ERA and 922 strikeouts. He won the Pacific League MVP in 2021 and 2022, earned five All-Star nods and also won the Japan Series -- the World Series equivalent in NPB -- in 2022, among other accolades.

Who will sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto in MLB?

While rumors have swirled in recent weeks, almost every team could use someone of Yamamoto's profile. That includes the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and more.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who recently traveled to Japan to scout Yamamoto, claimed to NBC Sports Bay Area that Yamamoto is "one of the top starting pitchers in the world."

Along with Ohtani, the race for Yamamoto is also one to monitor.

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