Yankees’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto backup plan is another quality international arm

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In a perfect world, the New York Yankees would finish their 2024 off-season with both Juan Soto and Yoshinobu Yamamoto as key additions to that roster. Soto has already been acquired, and Yamamoto is at the finish line, but the baseball world is still waiting on his destination for the next 5+ years.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are firmly in the mix, and the New York Mets can’t be ruled out, but the Yankees love how they left their meeting with Yamamoto and feel solid about their chances of signing him. The 25-year-old star Japanese native is coming off an elite season in the JPPL, tossing 164 innings, giving up 22 earned runs, collecting 169 strikeouts, and hosting a 1.21 ERA.

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The Yankees Need Yamamoto, It’s That Simple

The easy way to say this is that the Yankees desperately need Yamamoto in their rotation for obvious reasons. They can’t bank on the return of Carlos Rodon, and injuries have plagued Nestor Cortes over the past year. They need a healthy and young player to help reinforce the unit and Yamamoto could end up developing into an ace in the future.

However, the Yankees are prepared for the reality that he may choose to go to another team like the Dodgers. If that is the case, general manager Brian Cashman could pivot his interest to another international arm, Shota Imanaga. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Yankees have Imanaga on their radar, and he’s another quality arm that would help the rotation. In the middle of their 45-day posting windows, they have a few more weeks to go until their decisions are final.

Imanaga is expected to land a deal in the $100 million range, while Yamamoto could hit $300 million. Imanaga is five years older at 30, but he’s coming off a good year with Yokohama in the JPCL. He hosted a 2.80 ERA, giving up 46 earned runs, 17 homers, and collecting 174 strikeouts. By the numbers, Yamamoto is far better and half a decade younger, so it is safe to say he’s well worth the investment, especially with inflation lowering the value of the contract over time.

The Yankees can’t let them slip through their finger, but players like Imanaga, Dylan Cease, and Jordan Montgomery remain available on the market. The Yankees could go after Blake Snell, but there are some red flags there, and it seems more likely they would pursue a familiar face if all else fails.