Mets fall short of star free agent pitcher despite $325 million offer

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yoshinobo yamamoto, yankees, Mets
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets offered Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto a deal he couldn’t refuse. The only problem is the Los Angeles Dodgers matched their offer.

Mets Lose Yamamoto Bidding War to Dodgers After Strong Offseason Recruitment

Yamamoto agreed to a 12-year, $325 million deal with the Dodgers on Thursday, depriving the Mets of their top free-agent target, as SNY’s Danny Abriano reported.

The Mets were among the favorites to land Yamamoto along with the Dodgers and the New York Yankees. It was widely reported that Yamamoto would join a big market franchise, with Dodgers MVP Shohei Ohtani and Mets rookie sensation Kodai Senga having heavily recruited their fellow compatriot to their respective franchises.

New York’s front office was willing to go all in on Yamamoto after missing the playoffs with a 75-87 record, though their pitching staff performed up to par. Pairing Yamamoto with Senga would have given the Mets two surefire aces capable of stifling opposing offenses and bringing the Mets closer to their 101-win total from 2022.

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Can the Mets Compete With Yamamoto and the Dodgers in 2024?

Yamamoto entered free agency this fall after spending seven seasons in Japan’s NPB League. The 25-year-old was named to five All-Star teams and won the Japan Series and NPB MVP in 2022. He threw 176 strikeouts behind a 1.16 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in his 2023 campaign.

He now joins a Dodgers pitching staff headlined by Ohtani and Bobby Miller, with additional hopes that former three-time NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will resign with the club this winter. The Mets went 3-3 against the Dodgers last season and now have to prepare to go against Yamamoto once the 2024 season commences.