With free agency underway, the New York Yankees only have so much time to improve the roster. Things have been rather slow as teams gauge price tags and market value. The Yankees must navigate a landscape that is both thin and pricey with due diligence.
It is no secret that general manager Brian Cashman is eyeing international star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto was posted early Tuesday morning and will now have 45 days to sign with an MLB team, but there’s no rush as he looks to drive up the bid and earn as much money as possible.
Yamamoto is coming off a phenomenal 2023 season that included a no-hitter in front of Cashman and several other team executives. He pitched 164 innings in the JPPL, recording a 1.21 ERA, including 22 earned runs allowed and two homers with 169 strikeouts. Ultimately, there’s no guarantee he will transition smoothly to the MLB, but he certainly has the pitch sequence and durability to make a significant impact in the long term.
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The Yankees Have Pitching Options
Aside from Yoshinobu, the Yankees could also set their sights on Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell, but one top starting pitcher has already been plucked off the market.
The Philadelphia Phillies recently extended 30-year-old starter Aaron Nola on a seven-year, $172 million deal. That marks one key starter off the board, but the Yankees likely would’ve avoided Nola anyway since he’s coming off a season where he pitched 193.2 innings but recorded a 4.46 ERA. His best attribute is availability, having pitched over 200 innings three times in his career and a minimum of 193 over the past three consecutive seasons.
Nola offers extraordinary durability, and the Yankees certainly could use more of that, but his inconsistencies present some issues. Nonetheless, he will return to the Phillies for the next seven seasons, and the Bombers will have to look elsewhere in a crowded market that has a number of teams looking for pitching reinforcements.
Ultimately, Snell doesn’t exactly fit the bill for what the Yanks need, and while Montgomery would be a decent acquisition based on his familiarity, Yamamoto blows both of them away in terms of upside and youth. At just 25 years old, the Japanese star is primed to make the move and could be an ace for the long term.
Eventually, Gerrit Cole will hit a wall due to age, and the Yankees will want to have his replacement on hand, and Yamamoto seems to be the perfect fit.