The first of our two dream acquisitions is Yoshinobu Yamamoto of NPB's Orix Buffaloes, the second-most talked about player this offseason after his Samurai Japan teammate Shohei Ohtani. Tracking Yamamoto's path to the major leagues since the WBC has been entertaining, to say the least; during the WBC, all eyes seemed to be on pitcher Roki Sasaki, even though Yamamoto pitched a near identical number of innings during the tournament, came out with a much better ERA, gave up the same amount of walks, and struck out one extra batter.
Sasaki still has a long way to go before he can become an international free agent, but Yamamoto's Buffaloes just gave him the all clear to head to MLB. Predictions for how much he'll make with the right team exceed $200 million, which would make him the recipient of the largest contract offered to a Japanese player coming from NPB, topping Masahiro Tanaka's seven year, $155 million contract with the Yankees.
Yamamoto has thrown two no-hitters in NPB and a three time pitching Triple Crown winner over three consecutive years, and he's only 25. Offseason competition for Yamamoto almost rivals the competition for Ohtani, which is an absolute feat. In the Tigers dream rotation, he would lock in as part of a young pitching staff and be the first Japanese player to come to Detroit in over 20 years.
We've already extolled the virtues of Jordan Montgomery and made a case for him as a dream acquisition, so let's switch it up a little here.
By rounding out the dream rotation with former Phillies ace Aaron Nola, the Tigers would have an efficient, enviable mix of experience and youth. Nola is the absolute definition of a workhorse; he's pitched 160 or more innings every year since 2017 (barring the COVID season) for a 3.69 ERA during those years, and has struck out over 200 batters every season since 2018. As a free agent this offseason, he was always going to make a lot of money with a new team, but his postseason appearances made an argument for even more. He pitched 23 innings, struck out 23 hitters, and only allowed six runs to make up a 2.35 ERA.
Nola's only 30 and has clearly been able to stay healthy over his already long career in the major leagues. In this dream rotation, the Tigers have written up a contract that will retain Nola for six years to see him to the end of his career, and he becomes a key player in this young, exciting, literally to-good-to-be-true rotation.