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Friday Bird Droppings: The Dodgers won the Yamamoto sweepstakes

The hot stove was in a deep freeze until late last night, when the Dodgers landed the prized righty for $325 million.

2023 World Baseball Classic: Championship Team USA v. Team Japan
WBC stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be teammates again with the Dodgers.
Photo by Rob Tringali/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well, as of late last night, the hot stove has kicked into high gear. And the rich have gotten richer.

The Los Angeles Dodgers — who had already landed the biggest free agent prize on the market, Shohei Ohtani — continued their eye-popping offseason by landing the second-biggest as well. Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto will join his countryman with the Dodgers, agreeing to a 12-year, $325 million contract, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Between Yamamoto’s new deal and Ohtani’s $700 million contract (albeit mostly deferred), the Dodgers have handed out over a billion dollars to two players this winter. Wowza. But hey, better them than the Yankees, or another O’s division rival. If anybody is going to create a super-team, I’m glad it’s in the NL West, where the the O’s won’t have to worry about them until the World Series (aside from a three-game series in L.A. at the end of August).

Full disclosure: I had already written a version of today’s Bird Droppings complaining about how nothing much was happening in baseball right now, until this news broke just as I was about to go to sleep. I’m awake now, and hopefully, so is the hot stove. With Yamamoto now off the board, the free agent and trade markets can start to heat up, as the teams that missed out on their top choice will pursue other options more aggressively.

The other prominent MLB news yesterday was the announcement of some rules changes for the 2024 season, including knocking a couple seconds off the pitch clock (from 20 to 18) with runners on base. All of the changes look good to me, especially the widening of the runner’s lane between home plate and first base. This should hopefully eliminate those frustrating instances in which a batter is running in a straight line from home to first but gets called out for interference when a throw hits him, because he wasn’t technically between the white lines. It always seemed weird to me that the runner’s lane wasn’t the most direct path between the two bases, so this is a welcome fix.

What say you, Camden Chatters? Are there any of these new rules that you particularly like or dislike?

Links

Orioles: With some obstacles to spending gone, the team’s offseason will get added scrutiny - The Baltimore Banner
Jon Meoli writes that with both the lease and the MASN rights fees recently resolved, the O’s are running out of excuses not to spend. Something tells me that they’ll find more.

McCann on Rutschman; Orioles’ lease allows other sports; Germán an unlikely fit - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Among other notes, Rich Dubroff thankfully throws cold water on the recent Domingo Germán-to-the-Orioles rumors, pointing out that the Mike Elias regime has steered clear of players with off-the-field issues.

The next Ryan O’Hearn or Danny Coulombe? A deeper look at the Orioles’ under-the-radar moves this offseason – Baltimore Sun
Jacob Calvin Meyer wonders if any of this winter’s unheralded acquisitions — Nate Webb, Sam Hilliard, Tucker Davidson, or Jonathan Heasley — can turn into a surprise contributor. I’m going on record that only one of them will even play for the Orioles next year. Just don’t ask me which one.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! A whopping eight former Orioles were born on Dec. 22, including two names that every O’s fan will know: the late Elrod Hendricks (b. 1940, d. 2005), who spent nearly 40 years in the organization as a player and coach; and All-Star lefty Zack Britton (36), perhaps the most dominant closer in O’s history, who announced his retirement from baseball earlier this winter. Hendricks is in the Orioles Hall of Fame and Britton should be someday.

Other ex-Orioles with birthdays today are infielders Richie Martin (29), Rey Navarro (34), and Blake Davis (40); right-hander Chris Jakubauskas (45); outfielder Lonnie Smith (68); and the late lefty Tom Underwood (b. 1953, d. 2010).

On this day in 1953, the owner of the International League Orioles, Jack Dunn III, officially granted the use of the “Orioles” name to the major league franchise that had just moved from St. Louis to Baltimore. Imagine if he hadn’t? We would have spent the last 70 years calling our favorite team the Baltimore Browns or something.

And in 1999, the Orioles signed left-handed reliever Buddy Groom as a free agent. Groom became a mainstay in the O’s bullpen for the next half-decade, pitching exactly 70 games in each of his first three years and exactly 60 in the next two. He likes round numbers, I guess. He posted a 3.91 ERA and had 18 saves.