Yamamoto Expected to Make Decision After Christmas

Yamamoto sweepstakes after Christmas

Teams have a growing sense that Yoshinobu Yamamoto will take his time choosing a team to play for in the United States. Some reports claim that the 25-year-old pitcher may decide after the Christmas holiday, with a real possibility that a decision won’t be made until January. Yamamoto is posted until Jan. 4th, so a decision will have to be made within the next couple of weeks. There is no confirmed exact date that Yamamoto plans to decide, but all signs point to the highly sought-after pitcher taking his time to mull over his choices.

The New York Yankees are among the most likely teams to land the highly coveted Japanese-born pitcher. The Yankees are reported to have had two in-person meetings with Yamamoto to this point. The first meeting included Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman, president Randy Levine, manager Aaron Boone, and pitching coach Matt Blake. A week after this initial meeting with the Yankees, Yamamoto requested to meet with the Yankees again, as reported by Jon Heyman.

Another one of the teams reported to be in the race is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who recently signed Shohei Ohtani to an unprecedented 10-year, $700 million contract. It was later reported that this contract would feature a deferral of $680 million, allowing the Dodgers to expand their payroll and place more talent around Ohtani. In this case, Ohtani’s salary will only be $2 million per season over the next ten seasons, with the remaining $680 million deferred until the end of his deal. This means that $46 million (per CBT regulations) will hit the Dodgers luxury tax figure annually.

The New York Mets are expected to offer a large contract as they are led by big-spending owner Steve Cohen, who is remembered for assembling baseball’s largest payroll in 2023, which exceeded $350 million. The 2023 Mets later finished fourth in the NL East with a record of 75-87 and sold off recently acquired pitchers Justin Verlander & Max Scherzer shortly before the All-Star break. Cohen has personally made multiple trips to Japan to meet with Yamamoto while also hosting him for dinner, most recently in the United States.

The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays are also making a run at signing Yamamoto.

When negotiations conclude, this crowded competition of big-market teams is poised to land the 25-year-old Yamamoto upwards of $300 million.

If the Yankees were to sign Yamamoto, this would likely push their luxury tax payroll north of $300 million. Hal Steinbrenner appears willing to make that plunge to land a pitcher of his caliber and age.

At 25 years old, Yamamoto has won the last three Sawamura Awards in Japan, the hardware similar to MLB’s Cy Young. During his seven seasons in Japan, he has amassed a 1.82 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, and a 9.3K/9 rate.

Yankees fans are celebrating the recent trade that brought Juan Soto to the Bronx. This move sent Michael King, Kyle Higashioka, and other pitching prospects to the San Diego Padres at the beginning of December. Soto has one year left on his contract, so many fans are feeling the pressure to “win now.” A corresponding move that brings Yamamoto to the Bronx could potentially make the Yankees’ rotation one of the toughest in the league for years to come while concurrently pairing one of the prospective top arms with the latest AL Cy Young Award winner, Gerrit Cole.

Jacob P.M.

Covering the New York Yankees - Find me on X/Twitter: @JacobBSpeaks

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