Free Agency Rumors: Yankees will have to out-bid Mets for star Japanese pitcher

olympics: baseball-men semifinal - jpn-kor, yoshinobu yamamoto, yankees
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The New York Yankees, with their eye on the future and a budget that permits big moves, are considering a significant play for the top starting pitcher in the free-agent market. With the exit of Luis Severino and Frankie Montas, the Yankees will see a freeing up of roughly $20 million. However, they aren’t the only team vying for this talent.

In a proactive scouting mission, General Manager Brian Cashman, along with some of the Yankees’ top executives, jetted off to Japan. Their mission? To witness the prodigious talents of 25-year-old sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

The pitcher, who boasts an exceptional record with the Orix Buffaloes, has put himself in a prime position to be posted this winter. His standout attributes? A consistent record of pitching over 170 innings for three consecutive seasons, a sign of remarkable durability, combined with a superb pitch arsenal that appears MLB-ready.

The Mets Connection

Jon Heyman of the New York Post highlighted that the New York Mets are keen on securing Yamamoto’s services. In Heyman’s words, “Word going around is the Mets might be high bidders for coveted Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto.”

This comes after the Mets’ successful acquisition of Kodai Senga, who made a commendable debut this past year. Their strategy might be pairing Senga with Yamamoto, as the two share not just an agent but also a potential for synergy on the pitch.

While the Yankees have multiple starter vacancies to address, they’re well aware of the competition. As Heyman noted, “Every big-market team has been tracking the two-time MVP, but a couple rival GMs say they hear the Mets are expected to go big.”

A Promising Talent

Yamamoto’s recent no-hitter, witnessed firsthand by Cashman, underscores his elite capabilities. His statistics are just as impressive: a stellar 1.21 ERA over 164 innings, with 117 hits, 22 earned runs, a mere two homers, and a whopping 169 strikeouts. While it’s understood that transitioning to MLB could temper these numbers somewhat, the excitement surrounding Yamamoto’s potential remains undiminished.

But the Yankees and Mets aren’t alone in their admiration for Yamamoto. A host of teams, including the “Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Giants, Diamondbacks, Tigers, and Rangers,” have been keenly observing the pitcher.

A Perfect Match With the Yankees?

With Matt Blake’s remarkable track record of extracting peak performances from the bullpen and several emerging arms, there’s a shared belief that Yamamoto could truly flourish under his guidance. Financially, the Yankees are equipped to make a strong pitch for Yamamoto. Yet, they’ll need to balance this with other team needs, especially if they hold off on trading to reinforce their offense.

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