The Mets are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history that saw the blue and orange go from World Series contenders to finishing 75-87
The Mets are entering this offseason with a couple of significant needs, but one of the more glaring ones is starting pitching.
The blue and orange traded away starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the trade deadline. They only have three of their five rotation spots filled for 2024 by Kodai Senga, Luis Severino, and José Quintana.
With no prospect expected to fill the void in 2024, David Stearns and the company will likely have to turn elsewhere to find starting pitching.
The cream of the crop of starting pitchers in this free-agent class and the Mets’ top target is Yoshinobu Yamamoto. With Yamamoto being posted last month, it now appears that the Mets are getting closer to signing the 25-year-old.
The Mets are meeting with Yamamoto
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Yamamoto is expected to come to the United States next week and meet face-to-face with many teams, including the New York Mets.
Last week, Yamamoto and his agent, Joel Wolfe, met via Zoom and phone with MLB teams that expressed an initial interest in him after his posting by the Orix Buffaloes in November.
From that list, Yamamoto would select a group of finalists and meet with them in person, most likely after the conclusion of this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.
Yamamoto’s track record
Yamamoto pitched 171 innings across 24 starts to a 1.16 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP and struck out 176 during the 2023 season for the Orix Buffaloes.
In addition, the 25-year-old has acquired numerous accolades during his NPB career. Yamamoto is a five-time all-star, three-time Eiji Sawamura Award winner, the Japanese baseball equivalent of the Cy-Young, a three-time Pacific League MVP and a three-time Japanese Triple Crown.
What does this mean for the Mets?
This is a good start for the Mets. Yamamoto agreeing to meet with the blue and orange means he is open to coming to the East Coast and Queens.
Hopefully, the appeal of pitching in New York and Steve Cohen’s checkbook is the formula necessary to sign what many expect to be baseball’s next Japanese superstar.