Yankees’ Yamamoto sweepstakes takes a crazy turn as Mets step up pursuit

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Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Japanese international star free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto is winding down his process of picking a new team. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are still considered co-favorites to land the 25-year-old right-handed pitcher, but the New York Mets have made a strong play for his services, and their pursuit is undoubtedly aggressive.

In fact, Mets owner Steve Cohen traveled to Japan to meet Yamamoto in person last week and reportedly hosted him at his house for dinner on Friday night, according to Andy Martino SNY.

The Mets were looking to get a second meeting with the Orix Buffaloes star, and fortunately for Cohen, he granted that wish. This gives the Mets an opportunity to continue swaying his decision, potentially offering him an absurd amount of money and guarantees for the future.

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The Yankees Need to Up the Ante

However, the Yankees have the financial resources and certainly the desire to Yamamoto on the free agent market. The problem is, there may be a price that owner Hal Steinbrunner isn’t willing to cross and Brian Cashman will have to look in other places for support. There are still a few options out there, including Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, and a rumored link to Dylan Cease in a potential trade with the Chicago White Sox.

It is essential to note that Yamamoto is the best of the bunch. He hasn’t pitched in the MLB, but the 25-year-old has ace upside pitching a minimum of 170 innings over the past three consecutive seasons, hosting a 1.21 ERA in 2023, giving up just 22 earned runs and two homers with 169 strikeouts.

The Yankees don’t just want Yamamoto, they need him. In fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers can’t be allowed to get him, since they would have a team flush with elite talent. The Yankees are trying to make the most of Juan Soto and the primes of both Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge, so making flashy moves now is necessary for their World Series aspirations in 2024.