As the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes continue to heat up, the Yankees are going to share some stiff competition for his services. Jon Heyman was on MLB Network this morning, where he speculated that the 25-year-old wants the spotlight, and while the insider specified not to “hold him to it”, he would go on to label the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees as the co-favorites to land him. This comes as no surprise given what the two teams could offer, which is an opportunity to compete for a World Series immediately while playing on two of the most successful franchises in baseball.
Following a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Yankees were considered the favorites for Yamamoto last night, the picture is growing clearer on who the frontrunners will be for Japan’s top pitcher.
Yankees Set To Square Off With Attractive Suitors for Yoshinobu Yamamoto
There is plenty of optimism from people in the Yankees’ organization that the meeting in Los Angeles with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but they’re not the only organization feeling good about themselves. Andy Martino of SNY reported that the New York Mets emerged from the underdog label, as serious ground has been made between them and the presumptive frontrunners in Los Angeles and the Bronx. Furthermore, reports about the Dodgers’ star-studded lineup at the meeting table this past week sent waves through social media, as Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and even Shohei Ohtani were all there to make the pitch.
Yamamoto grew up a fan of the Dodgers, and there’s plenty of unease surrounding where he’ll eventually end up signing among many fanbases, but the Yankees have a couple of things working for them. First and foremost, the allure of the pinstripes is something we’ve heard often from many reporters, and while Jon Heyman labeled the lust for the spotlight as speculation, he wouldn’t be the first person to mention a desire for the bright lights. The Japanese ace has pitched in plenty of big games, winning gold in both the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2023 World Baseball Classic, and claiming an NPB title in 2022.
One of the most decorated athletes in the globe at his age, he’s the recipient of the three most recent Sawamura Awards, which is the NPB equivalent of the Cy Young. The 25-year-old has also won three-straight MVPs and three-straight Triple Crowns over that stretch as well, sporting an incredible 1.44 ERA. The hype around his potential production at the Major League level is justified, as teams heavily value not only his talent, but also the fact that he’s just 25 years old, and rarely do you get a chance to sign a player this talented this early into their career.
Acquiring superstar outfielder Juan Soto has cemented the Yankees as going all-in for a title in 2024, and while they’ll have to fend off some enticing suitors, the team is in good standing. Yamamoto is expected to make his decision before Christmas, and while not much has leaked regarding the quality of these meetings, the consistent reports about the Yankees being among the frontrunners would indicate they’ve done well. It was also reported by Jack Curry that the team had yet to truly monitor any pivot options, a sign that the Yankees do not plan on being outbid for Yamamoto.
The problem with that statement? Teams like the Mets and Dodgers likely feel the same way, desperate to land a pitcher who would immediately slot in at the top of both team’s rotations. Sure, Los Angeles is on the verge of acquiring Tyler Glasnow from the Rays, but they seem motivated to still get a deal done for Yamamoto. As for whether the presence of Shohei Ohtani would lower Yamamoto’s spotlight, no reports have come out to indicate that this is a factor in his decision, although little is known about the fine details of these sweepstakes.
Both the Red Sox and Giants are considered teams with an outside chance, but both suitors shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Yoshinobu Yamamoto will define this offseason for plenty of teams across the league, and the Yankees are hoping to deliver on the dream of a YamaSoto offseason.