Yankees face nasty competition from Mets for top free agent pitcher

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yankees, yoshinobu yamaoto, mets

The New York Yankees and the New York Mets have had a long-standing rivalry for decades, stemming from the fact that they share the same city. “Crosstown rivals,” we always read. Usually, they compete for wins, for fans, and other related things. Now, they are vying for the same player, one that will dictate how the rest of the offseason goes for each team.

That player is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, no less. The three-time Pacific League MVP in Japan and the owner of a 1.21 ERA in 164 innings this year has taken over as the most desirable arm in the free-agent market.

Teams are all too familiar with the top American arms in the current market: Blake Snell can be unhittable but is prone to control lapses and has been injury-prone in the past. Marcus Stroman doesn’t have the best relationship with the Yankees and Mets. Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, and Eduardo Rodriguez are no longer available, and Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in 2024.

That leaves us with Yamamoto. He is young (25 years old), dominated in the World Baseball Classic (2.45 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 7.1 frames), has a deep, excellent stuff headlined by a high-90s fastball and a filthy splitter, and boasts impeccable command. He is the rare breed: young but very experienced and still in his prime.

Because of all those things, many teams want Yamamoto. The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, and several other contenders are trying to sign him, but the Yankees and Mets appear to be the favorites.

The Yankees and Mets appear to be the favorites to land Yamamoto

Steve Cohen, the Mets owner, flew to Japan last week to meet with Yamamoto and the Yankees are expected to have a meeting with him and his team in America on Monday. According to what a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, it will likely come down to the two New York powerhouses:

“This is going to come down to the Mets and Yankees,” one source said. “They both think they need him badly — and they do. Get your popcorn ready. This could be fun.”

They do need him badly. If the Mets want to compete in 2024, they should do everything in their power to sign him. They lost Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and even though Kodai Senga was as good as advertised, they need more. Much more.

The Yankees just traded Michael King and most of their depth (Drew Torphe, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vazquez) to get Juan Soto and lost Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Frankie Montas. Their fifth starter, as of Thursday, is a question mark, so bringing in Yamamoto would put them in a very desirable position.

Who will be the one who comes out on top of the Yamamoto sweepstakes?

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