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MLB rumor roundup: Yankees, Mets both in on Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Wednesday, including a potential crosstown bidding war for one of the top pitchers on the market and the Phillies’ apparent lack of interest in Blake Snell.

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Team Japan pitches during the 2023 World Baseball Classic Semifinal game between Team Mexico and Team Japan at loanDepot Park on Monday, March 20, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Daniel Shirey/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We’re now almost two weeks removed from the Rangers’ World Series win, and we’re still waiting for the first offseason domino to fall. With the non-tender deadline coming up on Friday, Nov. 17, and Winter Meetings the first weekend in December, it shouldn’t be too much longer until the Hot Stove starts really warming up.

Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Wednesday’s edition features plenty of interesting items, from crosstown rivals duking it out for one of the top pitchers on the market to the Phillies’ reported lack of interest in Blake Snell. (As a reminder, here are our top 25 free agents as well as the 10 most interesting trade candidates this winter.)

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Wednesday, Nov. 15

Yankees, Mets both in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Both New York teams find themselves in need of starting pitching this winter, and they’re reportedly both very high on one of the biggest names available: 25-year-old Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who’s set to come to the States after dominating in NPB over the past few years. Yoshinobu’s age and upside make him a tantalizing free-agent target in a market in which the other big names (Aaron Nola, Blake Snell) are on the wrong side of 30, and SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the righty could be “the first free agent showdown, potentially, between the Mets and Yankees in the Steve Cohen era”.

It’s worth noting that Yamamoto has not been officially posted by the Orix Buffaloes, his team in Japan. Once that happens, teams will have 45 days to negotiate a deal with him, and he’s expected to draw interest from countless other clubs including the Giants, Phillies, and Cardinals. Given the Yankees’ desire to get younger and the Mets’ competitive timeline, though, Yamamoto makes a ton of sense for both teams, and could produce some fireworks once Winter Meetings get rolling.

Phillies ‘just lukewarm’ on Blake Snell?

We mentioned the Phillies as a potential Yamamoto suitor, and with Nola hitting the market (and GM Dave Dombrowski always looking to make a splash) the team figures to be linked to just about every frontline starter this winter. Every starter, that is, except for Snell, who The Athletic’s Jayson Stark says isn’t particularly high on Philly’s wish list:

But here’s one often-rumored name they appear to be just lukewarm on. That’s the likely NL Cy Young, Blake Snell, whose walk rate, inconsistency and lack of year-in, year-out volume make him almost the diametric opposite of Nola. However, if Nola hits the exit ramp and Yamamoto goes to a team with a richer history with Japanese players, Snell could still be in play.

That doesn’t mean Snell won’t be in play — especially if Nola and Yamamoto go elsewhere — but they may not consider him their Plan A, given his age, long-standing command issues and workload concerns (the lefty has cleared the 150-inning mark just twice in his eight-year career).