Yankees a ‘very strong contender’ for top free agent pitching target

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The New York Yankees are setting their sights high in the upcoming free agency, with Yoshinobu Yamamoto being a primary target. Alongside him, the Yankees are considering bringing back Frankie Montas on a cost-effective one-year deal. Montas, potentially available for around $10 million, could be a valuable asset, especially if he replicates his impressive 2022 performance.

Focus on Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yamamoto, the marquee signing the Yankees are eyeing, would significantly bolster their rotation, potentially becoming the future ace as Gerrit Cole ages. Cole, fresh off a Cy Young award-winning season in 2023, remains a dominant force, but adding Yamamoto would provide an additional layer of strength to an already formidable rotation that includes Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cort├ęs, Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt.

Competition and Interest in Yamamoto

League-Wide Interest and the Yankees’ Edge

The pursuit of Yamamoto is not without competition, as teams like the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox are also expected to be aggressive in their bid for the pitcher. According to Andy Martino of SNY, Yamamoto is particularly intrigued by the “prestige and iconography of the Yankees,” making them a strong contender for his services. The Yankees’ allure, combined with Yamamoto’s impressive track record in the JPPL, including a stellar 1.21 ERA. He enjoyed a 1.21 ERA, allowing 117 hits, 22 earned runs and just two homers. He walked only 28 batters and struck out 169 in the process, showcasing his quality.

Balancing Costs and Championship Aspirations

Navigating the Financials

With the recent trend of significant spending on starting pitchers to secure championships, the Yankees are aware of the need to balance their budget. They are hoping for their prospects to step up and fill key roles, allowing for strategic spending in other areas. The potential trade availability of Juan Soto and the allure of Yamamoto as one of the best pitching prospects in recent years adds to the complexity of their off-season planning.

Avoiding a Bidding War

General Manager Brian Cashman faces the challenge of avoiding a costly bidding war, particularly with Steve Cohen’s Mets, which could inflate Yamamoto’s price. The Yankees must determine their financial limits and how far they are willing to stretch to secure top-tier talent like Yamamoto.