It is time for the Yoshinobu Yamamoto Sweepstakes to officially begin.
The Orix Buffaloes have officially made Yamamoto available. His posting window will begin on Tuesday at 8:00 AM and will last through 5:00 PM on January 4, 2024. It is a certainty that he will sign somewhere in that 45 day window; the question is where.
Yamamoto had nothing left to prove in Japan. The three time defending Sawamura Award winner had posted a career 1.82 ERA and a 0.935 WHiP over his 897 NPB innings, striking out 922 batters with 206 walks. While he may not put up video game numbers stateside, his impressive arsenal would seemingly assure him of success in the majors.
Every team is going to want Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Let’s take a look at the three most likely landing spots for the Japanese ace.
The most likely landing spots for Yoshinobu Yamamoto
New York Yankees: The Yankees have been very clear that they covet Yamamoto. In fact, they have been clear that he is their top priority in free agency. Yamamoto would give them another top of the rotation arm to pair with Gerrit Cole, and while there is some risk, he may be less of a question mark than Nestor Cortes or Carlos Rodon at this juncture. He would solve a major hole on a roster with plenty of question marks while providing immense upside. It makes sense that they would be all-in for his services.
New York Mets: Like the Yankees, the Mets are in desperate need of another top of the rotation arm. And like the Yankees, they have been linked to Yamamoto. They are also in a reloading process, having traded away several of their higher priced players. However, they are not interested in a rebuilding process. The Mets do plan on contending in 2024. Adding Yamamoto as a long term piece would help build a sustainable contender and could get Steve Cohen closer to his desired championship.
St. Louis Cardinals: While the Cardinals have not been specifically linked to Yamamoto, it would not be a surprise if they were involved in his market. They have stated that they plan on acquiring multiple pieces for their rotation and are targeting the upper tier of the market, even if they did not speak with Aaron Nola. Yamamoto would be a perfect addition for the Cardinals in their attempt to get back to the postseason.