Yankees’ top pitching target set to begin negotiation period Tuesday

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

The Yankees have been extremely interested in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the top international free agent and top pitching free agent in the 2023 class. Fresh off of winning his third-straight Yamamoto award, the 25-year-old right-hander will be heavily coveted by teams across the league, but the Yankees are ready to throw their hat in that ring as well. It’s been well-documented that the Yankees want to make a big move, and Brian Cashman flying across the globe to Japan to watch Yamamoto in person is proof that he’s serious about this pursuit.

ESPN’s very own Buster Olney reported that Yoshinobu Yamamoto is set to be posted on Monday, opening up the negotiating period for Tuesday, November 21st. The bidding for Japan’s top star will begin, and the Yankees are going to have their work cut out for them if they want to secure his talents.

Yankees Set to Enter Bidding War For Japan’s Top Pitcher

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yankees, yoshinobu yamamoto
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) throws a pitch 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

Yoshinobu Yamamoto had arguably the most dominant three-year run in Nippon Baseball League history, winning three Triple Crowns and Sawamura Awards while posting a ridiculous 1.44 ERA over that stretch. This past season was arguably his finest, as the 25-year-old posted a career-best 1.21 ERA while striking out 26.6% of batters faced in that timespan. He excelled at preventing damage contact, with a 52.8% groundball rate and just two home runs in his 164 innings of work.

With two no-hitters, the latter being thrown with Brian Cashman in attendance, Yamamoto had as many no-hitters as home runs allowed, a feat that’s difficult to even comprehend. His stuff is phenomenal, with a fastball that’s released from a low slot at 95 MPH, and it gets great tailing and riding action to play up in the strike zone. Its lack of swing-and-miss could be a byproduct of the hitting environment in the NPB, as there’s more contact and less slug, and that also plays a role in his ridiculous home run suppression.

He also possesses an incredible splitter that gets roughly 14″ of vertical separation off of his fastball, with a curveball that freezes hitters and a sweeper that could become more prominent stateside. Yamamoto can also manipulate the spin of his fastballs to get more cutting or sinking action and overall has a complete arsenal of pitches that keep hitters honest. His talent is undeniable, but how aggressive will the Yankees be for his services and do they have any advantages?

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Nov 8, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Yankees Brian Cashman answers questions to the media during the MLB GM Meetings at The Conrad Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Passan said on The Michael Kay Show that the Yankees alongside the Mets, Red Sox, and Dodgers are expected to be finalists for the superstar, and this could indicate a lucrative bidding war. It marks the first bidding war between the Yankees and Mets for a free agent, and the Red Sox and Dodgers are two teams desperate to acquire starting pitching as well. The Yankees might have a leg up, however, as Andy Martino of SNY had an interesting report regarding Yamamoto’s preference.

Yamamoto is intrigued by the prestige and iconography of the Yankees, according to league sources, making that team a very strong contender for his services.

– Andy Martino

The Yankees are still going to need to make a great offer to land such an incredible talent, but the global brand recognition of the franchise could allure Yamamoto. He’s used to the big stage, after all, he’s already won an Olympic Gold Medal, a NPB title, and a World Baseball Classic title as well, and the bright lights of New York would be no different to him.

Speculation regarding friction between Yamamoto’s agent Joel Wolfe and GM Brian Cashman seemed to be baseless chatter, as Martino would also add that Yamamoto isn’t even aware of the comments made about Stanton’s health. They’ll certainly have competition, as the Mets are aggressive spenders who covet the 25-year-old and Boston and LA both have the money and desire to land him as well.

It’ll be one of the top stories in baseball, as Tuesday will mark a 45-day negotiation period where Yamamoto will decide upon the next chapter of his professional career.

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