There are two reasons why Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be the most prized pitcher on the open market. Firstly, he’s posted outstanding numbers in Nippon Professional Baseball than any pitcher who’s ever signed in the majors. Secondly, he’s only 25, making him an appealing option for teams looking to win in 2024: that and a sustained window of competitiveness beyond that season. Yamamoto has won three Eiji Sawamura awards (Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award) and is twice the Pacific League’s most valuable player.
He works with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches higher. His best secondary pitch? A nasty splitter that dives off the table, and he uses an unorthodox grip on a tight curveball. Yamamoto has recored a 1.82 ERA with 922 strikeouts and 206 walks in 897 innings with the Orix Buffaloes over the past seven seasons. Any team signing Yamamoto will be subjected to a posting fee, paying 20 percent of the first $25 million.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto has pitched 558 innings over the last 3 seasons in Japan and put up a 1.42 ERA doing it. It’s ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/1fO8qYHFN3
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) November 8, 2023
Landing Spots for Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Sources: RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s posting window will open “soon,” likely within the next week.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 9, 2023
Boston Red Sox
Boston could use an ace, but will they go all-in for the coveted starting pitcher? This offseason welcomes the opportunity for Boston to remind baseball that it is one of the largest markets in the sport. The Red Sox recently hired former reliever Craig Breslow as the club’s chief baseball officer. Breslow will have an interesting offseason ahead of him. There is a reason for hope with the organization, but they need to address the starting rotation. Yamamoto is what the Red Sox need. He will come with a steep price but can help the club for the next few years. If Yamamoto comes to Boston, he, with a healthy duo of Chris Sale and Brayan Bello, would be great for the rotation. Add another depth piece, and the Red Sox may be on to something.
New York Mets
The New York Mets are among the teams connected to the right-hander. Yamamoto reportedly wants to pitch in a big market, and the Big Apple fits him. The connection between the Mets and the 25-year-old comes after New York dealt their high-priced aces at the deadline in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. But, with the aging duo gone, the Mets rotation is now led by Kodai Senga, the top international arm last winter. Senga has been advocating for the Mets to pursue his fellow countryman. Wasserman represents both pitchers, and that connection between the two could give the Mets an advantage. The Mets could use Yamamoto and will be willing to pay top dollar to try to sign him.
San Francisco Giants
If it’s not Cody Bellinger, then it should be Yamamoto. San Francisco has the money to spend, yet they have not found suitable targets. Head of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, has spoken highly of the pitcher, and they will likely make an aggressive offer to show they are serious. San Francisco isn’t a big market like New York, but the Giants could sell Yamamoto on their success with pitchers from the past. The team generally has a lackluster reputation for signing big-name free agents. But the fact that Zaidi flew to Japan to watch Yamamoto in between the hiring of Bob Melvin seems like a strong signal that the Giants mean business.
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