The New York Yankees need to have a backup plan in case they miss out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who they met with this past Monday in Los Angeles. The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have made significant moves to acquire his services, including Steve Cohen traveling to Japan and the Dodgers whipping out their most prominent stars to try and sway Yamamoto’s opinion.
The expectation is that the Japanese international star will make his decision before Christmas, meaning the next ten days will provide an answer to one of the more pressing questions on the free agent market.
The Yankees desperately need his talent in the rotation, and they are willing to spend. However, good weather, a chance at a championship, and a massive salary could be too enticing to pass up in LA. Nonetheless, with Gerrit Cole getting older and the Yankees needing a new ace down the line, Yamamoto could be the face of the franchise in that regard, and that certainly doesn’t come along very often.
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The Yankees Need a Yamamoto Backup Plan
However, there is a chance the Yankees lose out on Yoshinobu, who pitched 164 innings in the JPPL last season, enjoying a 1.21 ERA and giving up just 22 earned runs with 169 strikeouts. If they have to pivot in a different direction, they could look toward a proven commodity, notably a familiar face in 30-year-old Jordan Montgomery.
Montgomery is coming off a World Series win with the Texas Rangers, so he knows what it takes to succeed in the postseason. Doing it with the Yankees would be a different experience, having jumped around between a few teams since being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022. He pitched 188.2 innings this past season, including 121 with St. Louis and 67.2 with Texas. He enjoyed a collective 3.20 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 7.92 strikeouts per nine, a 75.6% left-on-base rate, and a 43.2% ground ball rate.
Montgomery has tremendous stuff and has gotten better over the past few seasons despite a low strikeout rate. The problem is that he’s five years older than Yoshinobu, and a long-term deal could end up coming with regression in the future. Yamamoto is just entering his prime, and the value is evident, given the Yankees’ aggressive pursuit.
General manager Brian Cashman needs to have a backup plan in place, and if Montgomery doesn’t fit the bill, they could look to Blake Snell, Corbin Burnes, or Shane Bieber.