Yankees face ‘major threat’ in pursuit of Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yoshinobo yamamoto, yankees, Mets
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

There was always going to be competition landing New York Yankees‘ top free-agent pitching target Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Most believed that the New York Mets would be their biggest competitor, but spending big after committing to a rebuild may be ill-advised. However, the Mets have the money, and if Yamamoto locks down an ace spot for the next eight years, why wouldn’t they make a big play for his services?

However, Andy Martino of SNY indicated that the Los Angeles Dodgers could enter the fold and present a “major threat” to the Yankees and Mets’ chances if they don’t end up with Shohei Ohtani.

“The Dodgers are believed to be a strong contender for Yamamoto, too. If LAD does not end up with Ohtani, that’s a major threat to Yankees/Mets chances.”

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The Yankees Need the Dodgers to Land Ohtani to Quell Competition

Ohtani has been projected to land with the Dodgers for months, given his love for the West Coast and better weather. Coming off a phenomenal season that was tainted by an elbow injury that required Tommy Jon surgery, Ohtani will still be able to hit in 2024 and will eventually return as a prominent pitcher.

However, if the Dodgers decide to spend elsewhere, Yamamoto would be at the top of their wishlist. At just 25 years old, the Japanese native tossed 164 innings in the JPPL past season, hosting a 1.21 ERA, giving up just 22 earned runs and two homers with 169 strikeouts.

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) throws a pitch against Korea in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Yamamoto is a perfect fit for the Yankees since they desperately need to get younger and more durable. Yamamoto has pitched over 170 innings for three consecutive years in all competitions, showcasing his consistency. Adding him to a rotation that already has Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon would undoubtedly give the Yankees one of the best units on paper.

Of course, general manager Brian Cashman will need the green light to spend $200 million on Yamamoto, not to mention the $30 million they would take on if they land Soto via trade.

The Yankees have some contracts coming off the books in the future, but they would be adding a substantial amount of expenses without offloading other big contracts.

In a perfect world, some of their young prospects in pre-arbitration will take over starting jobs, keeping costs low and allowing them to build a roster. Given both Yamamoto and Soto are 25 years old and durable; they seem to be a perfect fit for what Cashman is looking to achieve this off-season.