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Yoshinobu Yamamoto becomes free agent Tuesday, talks can run through Jan. 4


NEW YORK (AP) — Yoshinobu Yamamoto will become a free agent Tuesday and major league teams can sign him through 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 4.

Nippon Professional Baseball notified Major League Baseball that the 25-year-old right-hander's club, the Orix Buffaloes, was posting him for availability to MLB teams. MLB notified the 30 teams of the posting on Monday, and under the agreement between MLB and NPB the negotiating period starts at 8 a.m. Tuesday and extends for up to 45 days.

Yamamoto was 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA this season, striking out 169 and walking 28 in 164 innings, and has a 70-29 record with 1.82 ERA in seven seasons with Orix. He struck out a Japan Series record 14 in a Game 6 win over Hanshin on Nov. 5, throwing a 138-pitch complete game. Orix went on to lose Game 7.

He pitched his second career no-hitter, the 100th no-hitter in Japanese big league history, on Sept. 9 for the Buffaloes against the Lotte Marines. The game, watched by MLB executives that included New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings.

A two-time Pacific League MVP, Yamamoto also pitched a no-hitter against the Seibu Lions on June 18 last year. His fastball averaged 95 mph and topped out at 96.6 mph in Japan's semifinal win over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March. He threw 20 fastballs, 19 splitters, six curveballs, six cutters and one slider in a 3 1/3 inning relief outing. Batters swung at 11 of his splitters and missed four.

Following hard-throwing sensation 21-year-old sensation Rōki Sasaki, Yamamoto gave up two runs and three hits in 3 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks, allowing Alex Verdugo's RBI double. Yamamoto was charged with a second run when Isaac Paredes hit an RBI single off Atsuki Yuasa.

Under the MLB-NPB agreement, the posting fee will be 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.


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