With Shohei Ohtani off the market, all eyes around the baseball world have turned to the next hottest name in free agency: 25-year-old Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whose age and frontline stuff have the biggest teams in the league lining up for his services.
Yamamoto spent most of last week hosting in-person meetings (and, occasionally, being wined and dined), and now it seems like a decision is imminent. So let’s get you caught up on all the latest rumors on this Wednesday, from the Dodgers mulling another bank-breaking offer to whether one New York team has edged in front of the other.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto rumors: Wednesday, Dec. 20
Dodgers weighing big offer
Given the $700 million — deferred or not — they already handed out to Ohtani earlier this winter, plus the extension for Tyler Glasnow, it was a bit of an open question just how much money Andrew Friedman would have to throw around elsewhere. The answer, at least according to Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times, is “quite a bit”:
The team also is believed to be considering a bid of $250 million to $300 million for Yamamoto, according to a person with knowledge of the plans but unauthorized to speak publicly, a sign of its intention to compete for another free agent attracting plenty of other big-market suitors such as the Mets and New York Yankees.
The exact state of bidding for Yamamoto is unclear, but most reporting indicates that the righty is expected to net a contract worth more than $300 million. Even if that proves overzealous, he’s all but certain to shatter Masahiro Tanaka’s record (of $155 million) for the largest deal signed by an incoming Japanese pitcher. Whatever the final number, it doesn’t seem like price will be the thing that keeps him from winding up in Los Angeles.
Mets ‘more hopeful’, but don’t count Cohen out
The Dodgers, Yankees and Mets have long been considered the three most serious contenders for Yamamoto’s services. Despite Yamamoto’s dinner with Cohen over the weekend, though, it sounds like the Amazins are slightly behind the other two, at least according to the latest from SNY’s Andy Martino:
On Mets Hot Stove, @martinonyc reports on the latest with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, while @gappleSNY, @DPLennon & @Todd_Zeile discuss why Yamamoto has caused a frenzy and what adjustments he'd have to make in MLB and New York https://t.co/S30r5UMzmA pic.twitter.com/ZWNqdFT5Kf— SNY (@SNYtv) December 20, 2023
Martino reports that the Dodgers and Yankees are in excellent shape, while the Mets are a “more hopeful” destination — which would make sense, considering Yamamoto’s reported to desire to pitch under the brightest lights. But Cohen can win a bidding war with anyone; he’s supposedly considering throwing a godfather offer at the righty, and if that’s the case, all bets are off.
Giants, Red Sox still in contention
Of course, while those are the top three, they’re hardly the only teams trying to barge in on the Yamamoto sweepstakes. Per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffery and Chad Jennings, the Red Sox “are still very much in the mix”, while the Giants, too, are believed to still be in the hunt after meeting with him last week in San Francisco. Both teams should have plenty of money to spend and an obvious need for a front-of-the-rotation starter, but their lack of recent contention and (slightly) smaller market could leave them a step behind.