Yankees’ hot stove heating up with top pitching target meeting with teams

olympics: baseball-men semifinal - jpn-kor, yoshinobu yamamoto, mets, yankees
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ hot stove is starting to heat up with star free agent pitching target Yoshinobu Yamamoto being posted earlier this past week and expected to begin meeting with teams over the next few days.

Yamamoto is currently traveling back to Japan and will begin virtually interviewing prospective clubs to determine which team is a good fit for him next season. After a media frenzy indicating that Yamamoto wanted to play with a fellow Japanese player, that report has been debunked. The truth is that Yamamoto is simply fine playing alongside an international player, but it is not a necessity by any means.

The Yankees have signed and featured many players from overseas, with the most recent being Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka was fantastic for the Bombers and is friendly with Yamamoto, which could affect his decision. He has until January 4 to make a choice on a new club, but the expectation is there will be a heavy bidding war for his services, which could reach $200+ million.

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The Yankees Need to Spend Big on Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yamamoto is worth every penny, considering he’s just 25 years old and has the qualities to be an ace. The Yankees have several pitchers still trying to find their footing at 28 years old, and Yamamoto has pitched over 170 innings for three consecutive years, including 171 this past campaign, recording a 1.16 ERA across all competitions.

In the JPPL, he featured a 1.21 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs, two home runs, and 169 strikeouts. Giving pitching coach Matt Blake a player of this quality could bear fruit, and the Yankees desperately need to add to the rotation, having already lost Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German.

There is a reason to believe that the Yanks will bring back Montas on a one-year deal, but they haven’t made the signing just yet. SNY reports that Yamamoto is “intrigued” by the idea of playing for the Yankees, but he will consider many alternatives, with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox expected to be interested in signing him.

The likely competitor will be the Mets, who already have Kodai Senga, a player who shares an agent with Yamamoto and has an unlimited budget. Owner Hal Steinbrenner may not give Brian Cashman the green light to spend big on the Japanese-born player, but he certainly should, given how weak the market is in the starting pitching department and the upside Yamamoto has. Eventually, Gerrit Cole will hit a wall, and they need to have the future locked into place.