The New York Yankees set an undisclosed deadline for Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Japanese ace arrives in the major leagues after being posted into MLB free agency last week. Every team will at least inquire about the pitcher’s services, while teams like the Yankees will try to sign him. It is not hard to see why so many teams are interested in the right-hander, as he is arguably the best pitcher to come out of Japanese baseball. Yamamoto has won 3 Eiji Sawamura awards in a row, the Japanese equivalent to the Cy Young Award. He completed these impressive feats at 25 years old. Combine the factors of age, talent, and foreign marketing, and you have a potential superstar. Yamamoto is a much-needed player for multiple franchises and one that could change their prospects going into 2024.
However, Yamamoto is expected to sign with the team that presents the largest money offer. If the Yankees are outbid, they must change course quickly and focus on other starting pitchers, such as World Series champion Jordan Montgomery and the 2023 NL CY Young Award winner Blake Snell. Yamamoto will also have to sign with a major league team before the positing deadline expires on January 4, 2024. He will be sent back to Japan if he fails to sign with a major league team before the deadline. This is unlikely to happen. However, he will take his time in deciding. While Yamamoto takes his time, other valuable free agents may come off the board, and the Yankees cannot put all their eggs in one basket.
Why the Yankees are proceeding correctly with Yamamoto
The twenty-seven-time World Series champions must fill in multiple gaps within their roster. This is why the front office has set a critical deadline for Yamamoto. As great a talent as he is, other players could also fill the hole in the injured Yankees’ rotation. The Yankees most important task to fix is the offense. This is why the Yankee GM Brian Cashman has come out and stated the team is looking for two left-handed outfielders. These could be names such as Juan Soto, Cody Bellinger, Kevin Kiermaier, and Jung Hoo Lee. Even two of these players will take up a lot of the payroll and probably cost more than Yamamoto.
The Yankees do not have a choice this offseason as they are still without a left fielder, and the starting center fielder Jason Dominguez will miss a significant portion of next year. Yamamoto is a big priority for the Yankees this offseason to fill the rotation with quality and healthy arms. However, he is not the only player capable of fulfilling this task. The Yankees must fix all their glaring issues to make the playoffs next season. Yamamoto could significantly help them but cannot come at the cost of offensive production. The Yankees have no choice but to retool the offense to fix their largest hurdle in recent years.
The Yankees would be happy to have Yamamoto but within a timeframe. The front office must work overtime to fix this team before spring training. Waiting even on a phenom could prove costly to the overall big picture.
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