Even before the curtain falls on the Yankees‘ 2023 season, the free-agent rumor mill is already sizzling. General Manager Brian Cashman recently took a trans-Pacific flight to witness Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitch for the Orix Buffaloes.
This 25-year-old pitching phenom is set to be posted this winter and is expected to draw significant interest from MLB teams. Cashman seems particularly captivated, eyeing Yamamoto as the new gem to add to an already talented rotation featuring Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon.
Yamamoto’s Durability: A Sought-After Quality
Yamamoto has demonstrated remarkable stamina, pitching over 190 innings in each of the last two seasons and reaching 150 innings this year. This durability is especially appealing to the Yankees, who have recently poured millions into talents like Carlos Rodon—only to see them plagued by injuries. Rodon, who inked a six-year, $162-million contract this past offseason, has only managed to pitch 51 innings this year.
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Yankees Make Their Move: A Winter Strategy?
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the Yankees are gearing up to make a strong push for Yamamoto in the coming off-season. Notably, another high-ranking executive will be attending Yamamoto’s next start after Cashman was thrilled with the pitcher’s recent no-hitter. Tim Naehring, the team’s Vice President and one of Cashman’s most trusted advisors, will be the next to assess this prospective asset closely.
The Kodai Senga Benchmark: Setting Expectations
Should the Yankees open their wallet for a pitcher of Yamamoto’s caliber, they can expect not just a durable arm but also one considered even better than Kodai Senga, who has already made a successful MLB transition. This would make for an enviable rotation and a strong base for their 2024 campaign.
Balancing Act: Offense Versus Defense
While pitching might be high on the Yankees’ wishlist, they also need to augment their offense. The front office appears optimistic about injured players making full recoveries, but if this season serves as an indicator, their aging stars are on a downturn. How the Yankees will allocate their resources to fill these various needs remains a compelling subplot in their off-season strategy.