The Yankees‘ primary competitor for Yoshinobu Yamamoto on the free agent market would’ve been the Los Angeles Dodgers, given their willingness to spend big and add an elite arm to bolster that World Series chances in 2024.
Fortunately, the Dodgers went in a different direction, signing Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million deal. That amount of money per season will certainly strap them to a degree, especially when landing a star player like Yamamoto, who is expected to earn over $250 million on the open market.
Of course, Yamamoto has never pitched in the MLB, but he’s only 25 years old and has an elite pitch mix that should translate well to the Yankees or any other MLB team. He’s coming off a season where he tossed 171 innings in all competitions, including 164 in the JPPL, hosting a 1.21 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs, two home runs, and collecting 169 strikeouts.
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The Yankees Can Afford to Spend on Yamamoto
If the Yankees want to add a potential ace to their rotation, Yamamoto would be a phenomenal addition. Having a top three unit that includes the Japanese international, Gerrit Cole, and Carlos Rodon, would look exceptional on paper. Yamamoto is expected to meet with teams in the USA this upcoming week, and reports have indicated that the Yankees are planning to bring Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka to their meeting.
General manager Brian Cashman has pulled out all the stops, including saving the number 18 just in case they’re able to land Yamamoto. The number 18 is special in Japanese culture, so it was meant to be a sign of respect. There were some rumors that Yamamoto preferred to play alongside Japanese players, but that has since been. He simply wants to play in a big market on the biggest stage, and the Yankees certainly offer that luxury.