Yankees opted to stay below $325 million for Yamamoto due to interesting reason

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Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

With more details starting to emerge regarding Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s decision to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, all the Yankees can do is target alternative pitchers on the market. The Yankees have internally been discussing the idea of reuniting with Jordan Montgomery, but it is possible they look to a prospective trade for a pitcher like Shane Bieber as an alternative.

Montgomery is coming off a World Series-winning campaign and had his best season in 2023. Unfortunately, that also means Montgomery will be commanding significant money, especially with Yamamoto landing a $325 million deal. The market is thin, and Montgomery holds plenty of leverage, so the Yankees may prefer to avoid overspending and acquire a cheaper alternative via trade.

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The Yankees Stopped Short of $325 Million For Good Reason

Interestingly, one detail that emerged, via Jon Heyman of the New York Post, is that the Yankees stopped at $300 million for Yamamoto because they didn’t want to give more than Gerrit Cole’s contract.

Cole signed a $324 million deal back in 2020, averaging $36 million per season. Cole has an opt-out after the 2024 campaign, but the Yankees have the option to add a 10th year to his contract, which would make him a free agent after the 2020 season. He will likely opt out, triggering the $36 million for his last year in the contract at 38 years old.

Fortunately, the Yankees enjoyed a Cy Young performance from Cole in 2023, suggesting he is still pitching at the top of his game. Nonetheless, they weren’t willing to give $325 million for an international arm who has never tossed an inning in the MLB.

It is much different to acquire a proven commodity, but ownership couldn’t justify that number, even for a durable 25-year-old stud. They went as high as $300 million and offered $32 million per season across 12 years, but Yamamoto simply wanted to be on the West Coast, and joining Shohei Ohtani and a supercharged Dodgers team was never out of the question.