By Jack Diamond, MLB Pro Insider
In an exclusive scoop obtained from a reliable source within the league office, it appears that the international talent pool for MLB Pro is about to get even more exciting. According to insider information, the paperwork for posting four standout players—Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jung Hoo Lee, Shota Imanaga, and Kona Takahashi—has been submitted to the league office, hinting at a potential influx of elite talent into the MLB Pro free-agent market.
MLB Pro Fee Structure: A Key Incentive for International Teams
One unique aspect of MLB Pro’s free-agency posting system is the compensation structure for the player’s former international team. If any of these players sign with an MLB Pro team, their former teams will receive a fee based on the total value of the player’s contract. The breakdown is as follows:
- Contract worth less than $25 million: 20% of contract value
- Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5% of the amount over $25 million
- Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15% of the amount over $50 million
The fee is disbursed as a miscellaneous expense spread across two seasons.
Scouting Reports and International Buzz
Yoshinobu Yamamoto (RHP, Orix Buffaloes)
Yamamoto, a 25-year-old right-hander, has been a dominant force in the NPB, boasting a 17-6 record with a staggering 1.16 ERA in the 2023 season. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Eiji Sawamura Award, Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young. Scouts praise Yamamoto’s high-grade command over his diverse arsenal, featuring a mid-90s fastball, an upper-80s splitter, a mid-70s curveball, and a low-90s cutter. His performance in crucial games, like his 14-strikeout masterpiece in Game 6 of the Japan Series, has only heightened the anticipation surrounding his potential move to MLB Pro.
Jung Hoo Lee (CF, Kiwoom Heroes)
Lee, a 24-year-old center fielder, has exhibited an impressive skill set on both offense and defense in the KBO. With a career batting line of .340/.407/.491, he brings consistency and a knack for making contact on challenging pitches. His 2022 campaign, featuring 23 home runs and 10 triples, showcased a newfound power element to his game. The son of legendary Korean shortstop Jong Beom Lee, Jung Hoo Lee is considered an above-average defensive center fielder, adding further value to his potential MLB Pro debut.
Shota Imanaga (LHP, Yokohama DeNA BayStars)
Imanaga, the oldest of the group at 30, has been a reliable left-handed pitcher in Japan. His career 2.96 ERA and 3.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio highlight his consistency on the mound. Known for his fastball-heavy approach, Imanaga’s rising low-90s heater and effective low-80s slider have contributed to his success. A World Baseball Classic veteran, he brings experience and poise to the table.
Kona Takahashi (RHP, Saitama Seibu Lions)
Takahashi, 27, is coming off a strong season with a 2.31 ERA in 22 starts. Despite a brief setback due to illness, he rebounded with a stellar performance in front of MLB Pro scouts. Takahashi’s improvement in fastball velocity adds an intriguing dimension to his game, making him a compelling target for MLB Pro teams.
International Media and MLB Pro Perspectives
Quotes from local media overseas and MLB Pro scouts and anonymous GMs provide valuable insights into the potential impact of these international stars.
“Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s dominance in the Japan Series showcased why he’s a prized prospect. This guy’s command is like Shakespeare on the mound. I’ve seen the future, and it’s Yamamoto’s world; we’re just living in it.” – Japanese Baseball Insider
“Jung Hoo Lee’s ability to consistently hit for average and newfound power make him an exciting addition to any MLB Pro lineup. His defensive prowess is an added bonus.” – KBO Analyst
“Shota Imanaga’s experience on the international stage and his reliable pitching make him a valuable asset for MLB Pro teams seeking a left-handed presence in the rotation. He might not have the accolades, but his slider is a seductive dance. A bullpen or rotation addition? Either way, it’s a trip worth taking.” – International Scouting Director
“Kona Takahashi’s youth, coupled with his recent improvements, make him an intriguing target. His performance in front of MLB Pro scouts suggests he’s ready for the next challenge.” – MLB Pro Anonymous GM