Yankees pull out all the stops in second meeting with superstar free agent

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

While the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes heating up, the Yankees went through their second meeting with the superstar pitcher, and based on what Aaron Boone revealed, it seemed to be a great meeting. Taking place in Manhattan, the two parties engaged in a meeting that saw the Yankees not only pitch the idea of being a star in the Bronx but also bring out former NPB MVP Hideki Matsui and even offer him his own Yankee jersey. The Bronx Bombers are not messing around, as Hal Steinbrenner and company pulled out all the stops in a meeting that could be their last before Yamamoto makes a decision.

As the Yamamoto sweepstakes draw closer to a conclusion, the Yankees must like the spot they’re in, as Aaron Boone was transparent about their second meeting with the international superstar.

Yankees Bring Out Hideki Matsui and Pinstripes Allure in Second Meeting

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees
Sep 9, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Former New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui at Old Timer’s Day before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most iconic players to come over from the NPB is Hideki Matsui, a three-time MVP in the NPB, and he recorded a message for Yoshinobu Yamamoto that was played at the meeting. The Yankees have a rich history of Japanese-born superstars headlined by Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka, who are two of the best players to ever compete in the Nippon Baseball League. There aren’t any reports suggesting Tanaka was part of those meetings, but Matsui’s influence should certainly aid the Yankees in their pursuit of the superstar pitcher.

Furthermore, the Yankees had discussed with Yoshinobu Yamamoto what the atmosphere of playing in the postseason against the Astros and Red Sox was like, and according to Aaron Boone, “that seemed to light him up a little bit”, suggesting that there’s an intrigue in the bright lights of the Bronx. We’ve known that Yoshinobu Yamamoto wants to pitch on a big stage, and the postseason in New York is one of the biggest stages imaginable. The Yankees know they’re an international brand, their logo representing baseball internationally, and the pinstripes are synonymous with that brand.

To emphasize the importance of the pinstripes, the Yankees even gave Yoshinobu Yamamoto his own #18 jersey, and Aaron Boone said he gave him that jersey, and it’s “his if he wants to keep it”. Whether that’ll sway him towards the Yankees is yet to be seen, the Yankees have expressed their confidence in landing Yamamoto through the media and their public comments regarding how they view him. Aaron Boone fawned over his character, saying that he’s somebody who is comfortable in their own skin, and Jack Curry mentioned that the Yankees were blown away with his character as well.

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yankees, yoshinobu yamamoto
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) and Team Japan catcher Takuya Kai (10) 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

If the Yankees want Yoshinobu Yamamoto as badly as we’ve been led to believe, their offer needs to match their interest, as bidders like the Dodgers and Mets lurk and yearn for his services as well. It’ll be a bidding war that pits the biggest markets in the game against each other, and the bidding will likely exceed $250 million even before taking the posting fee into account. This is a 25-year-old ace who will be available for just money, and teams view him as one of the 10 best pitchers in the entire sport already.

Following the trade for Juan Soto, the Yankees have massive pitching issues they’d like to shore up, and landing Yoshinobu Yamamoto doesn’t just solve those issues, it also sends a message to the rest of baseball that the Evil Empire is truly back.