The competition is undoubtedly red hot for international star free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. It’s all rumors these days, but the Los Angeles Dodgers whipped out their superstars to sway his decision, and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen hosted Yamamoto at his house on Friday night, according to Andy Martino of SNY.
In fact, reports had indicated that both the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox made offers to Yamamoto for more than $300 million. The New York Yankees, fortunately, are in the thick of it and are expected to meet with Yamamoto for a second time as early as Sunday, per Martino.
At this rate, the price tag for Yamamoto is skyrocketing, and the Yankees, while they have substantial funds and resources to make an aggressive play, likely have a red line they aren’t willing to cross. That line is likely far back, though, since they acknowledge the fact that Yamamoto would be an elite addition to their starting rotation and potentially develop into their ace down the road as Gerrit Cole gets older.
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The Yankees Would be Getting Truly Elite Upside
Over the past three seasons, Yamamoto has averaged 7.1 innings per start, 1.44 ERA, 27.4% strikeout rate, 5.1% walk rate, winning three MVP awards and three triple crowns. This is not an ordinary international prospect, this is an MLB-ready star that should have a seamless transition at just 25 years old.
The Yankees have made it a priority to focus on youth and durability this off-season, headlined by the acquisitions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. Both outfielders haven’t played any less than 142 games over the past three consecutive years, and Yamamoto mimics that bill of health.
Ultimately, most of these top teams will be willing to offer a similar amount of money. It really comes down to where Yamamoto wants to pitch and his desire to be in the spotlight. The Dodgers already have Shohei Ohtani, who will be the focal point, but the Yankees don’t have an international player among their ranks in the starting rotation, and Yamamoto would be able to capitalize on world recognition and a future that is guaranteed to be profitable. In addition to that, the Yankees are trying to make a push for the World Series in 2024, and that may be a driving variable in his decision.