Yankees Hot Stove: Yamamoto update, insider hints at leading teams

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The Yankees have been focused on making some smaller moves over the past few days, trading Billy McKinney to the Pittsburgh Pirates, signing a bullpen piece to compete during spring training in Duane Underwood, and acquiring international catcher Justin Capellan.

Cashman is trying to get some minor deals done in the meantime while the team waits on Yoshinobu Yamamoto to make his final decision. Currently, in the middle of his 45-day posting window, Yamamoto has until January 4 to choose his future team, and the Yankees are currently leading the pack, according to one MLB insider.

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The Yankees Lead the Pack for Yamamoto

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com shared that “some” have characterized the Yankees as favorites for the Japanese star. He did indicate that the Mets aren’t out of it, given Steve Cohen unlimited funds, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have prioritized the top pitcher despite recently trading for Tyler Glasnow and extending them on a long-term deal.

It is no surprise that so many teams are vying for Yamamoto’s signature, given he gave up just 22 earned runs over 164 innings pitched in the JPPL last season. He allowed just two homers and collected 169 strikeouts, pitching three consecutive years with a minimum of 170 innings across all competitions.

It is important to note that the ball in the Japan League is a bit lighter, and starting pitchers normally get six days off instead of five. The transition won’t be easy, but at 25 years old and in the middle of his prime, Yamamoto is up for the challenge and wants to be one of the top players on any given team. He will likely be buried by Shohei Ohtani and his spotlight, but the Yankees need an international talent among their ranks, and he has an opportunity to carve out a bright future that could include taking over the ace monitor in the future from Gerrit Cole.

Currently, Yoshinobu is expected to command a deal in the $250–300 million range. Many believe $200 million was reasonable, but with added competition, the price keeps rising, and the Yankees are still in it to win it. Given his youth, durability, and upside, it is a gamble worth taking for the future, especially since the Yankees have had such success with international players in the past.