Yankees’ interest in Japenese star pitcher reaching new highs

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

It’s well-known that the New York Yankees are keenly interested in Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. General Manager Brian Cashman made waves when he flew to Japan to watch Yamamoto pitch a no-hitter for the Orix Buffaloes.

However, the Yankees are taking their interest several steps further. They’ve recently dispatched another top executive to Japan to witness Yamamoto’s pitching prowess, highlighting their intent on acquiring one of the most sought-after arms in the upcoming free-agent market.

Age and Durability: The Yamamoto Advantage

One of the standout attributes that Yamamoto brings to the table is his age—just 25 years old—and his stellar track record of durability. He’s pitched over 170 innings for three consecutive years, proving he’s no flash in the pan. This is particularly enticing for the Yankees, who’ve faced significant injuries in their pitching rotation over the past seasons. But with the contracts of Luis Severino and Frankie Montas expiring—freeing up about $22.5 million—the Yankees are ready to reinvest that capital into a high-caliber starter who boasts both youth and durability.

Following the Success of Kodai Senga: A Bidding War in the Making?

Yamamoto could take inspiration from Kodai Senga, who recently made a successful MLB transition by joining the New York Mets this past off-season. At 30, Senga has pitched 155.1 innings this year, securing a respectable 2.95 ERA and averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Since Yamamoto will be represented by the same agent as Senga, the stage is set for a potential bidding frenzy.

olympics: baseball-men semifinal - jpn-kor, yoshinobu yamamoto, mets, yankees
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) reacts against Korea in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees’ Growing Interest: Not Just Another Prospect

Bob Klapisch of NJ.com has indicated that the Yankees are even more intrigued by Yamamoto after their recent scouting visits, stating that “he’s at another level.” In addition, the Yankees’ front office is doing its homework on Roki Sasaki, another promising Japanese pitcher, although he won’t be available for some years. This season alone, Yamamoto has pitched 150 innings, maintained a stunning 1.32 ERA, and showcased other impressive stats, making him a target of interest for several MLB teams.

Financial Considerations: The Price Tag and Willingness to Pay

Brian Cashman has already publicly lauded Yamamoto, and it’s evident that other Yankees executives share this excitement. The real question remains: How much will Yamamoto command on the free-agent market, and will the Yankees be willing to make the financial commitment?

The Offense Equation: Balancing Bats and Arms

While it’s undeniable that the Yankees could benefit from adding more bats to their lineup, there’s enthusiasm about Jasson Dominguez taking over long-term as the center fielder, among other young talents. The team is keen on revitalizing its roster with youthful energy. While it’s a balanced approach, there’s also recognition that bringing in an above-average hitter could tip the scales favorably for the team.

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