Yankees gearing up to target elite Japanese pitcher in free agency

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The New York Yankees are about to find themselves with some extra change in their pockets this upcoming off-season. With Luis Severino and Frankie Montas’ contracts coming to an end, the team is set to save a substantial $22.5 million. While the obvious move would be to nab an above-average starter from within the league, the Yankees seem to be eyeing a different pond altogether—specifically, the international player pool featuring star Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

High Interest in Yoshinobu Yamamoto: Yankees Brass Attends No-Hitter

Yamamoto is expected to be posted by the Orix Buffaloes this winter, and the Yankees are clearly smitten. How smitten? General Manager Brian Cashman, Special Assistant Omar Minaya, and Pro Scouting Director Matt Daley all flew to Japan to personally witness Yamamoto’s recent no-hitter. Needless to say, it was a good night to be a scout; Yamamoto absolutely dazzled the Yankees’ brass.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Yamamoto’s Exceptional Season

So far in the current season, the 25-year-old has showcased some mind-boggling numbers. He holds a 1.34 ERA over 134 innings, with 102 hits, 20 earned runs, a mere two homers, and 137 strikeouts to his name. What’s more, by the season’s end, he will have pitched 150 innings for three straight years—a strong indicator of his durability and reliability, qualities the Yankees have been missing in recent acquisitions.

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Elite Arsenal: What Yamamoto Could Bring to the Mound

If reliability is what the Yankees are after, Yamamoto could be their guy. His pitching arsenal is nothing short of spectacular, featuring a fastball that averages between 94-95 mph and tops out near 100 mph. He also commands a splitter, cutter, and curveball, creating a sequence of elite pitches that should transition well to MLB play.

Shifting Strategies: A New Focus on International Talent?

Yankees’ Cashman has been notably conservative when it comes to spending on international players, with Masahiro Tanaka being the most recent high-profile signing from overseas. Given the Yankees’ historical success with Japanese players, resuming investments in international talents like Yamamoto could well be a step in the right direction.

Looking Ahead: A Potential Dream Rotation

Imagine a starting rotation featuring Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Nestor Cortés, and possibly Clarke Schmidt. Such a lineup could offer formidable strength for the Yankees in the upcoming season. Further bolstering this optimistic outlook is the organization’s high regard for prospect Drew Thorpe, who has been ascending through the minor leagues at a breakneck pace and is projected to make his MLB debut next year.

Reliability Factor: Addressing a Long-Standing Issue

At the very least, this potential rotation promises an elite trio at the top, with two of those spots filled by incredibly reliable pitchers—a commodity the Yankees have often found elusive. With this move, the Yankees could be setting themselves up for a more stable and potentially more successful future.