The New York Yankees will not need a first baseman until after the 2025 season, unless Anthony Rizzo’s club option is declined the offseason prior.
Excluding the Yankees actively creating their own need at the position, though, Rizzo’s latest contract lines up perfectly with the potential arrival of Japanese sensation Munetaka Murakami, the two-time Central League MVP and Japanese-born single-season home run record holder, following his 56-homer campaign in 2022.
That remarkable season earned him a three-year extension worth a cool 600 million yen per year, and sets him up for an MLB jump in that contract’s wake. In fact, it’s not just a possibility; it’s a stipulation of the deal.
The Yankees, a team that’s been quite active in the Japanese market in the past, should probably get back in contact with their reps in the region to toss their proverbial hats into Murakami’s ring.
The slugger recently appeared on Japanese television, and reportedly posited in an interview that he’s interested in west coast teams (like Shohei Ohtani), as well as the Yankees, a departure from that ambition.
At least, that’s the way the Yakyu Cosmopolitan, a Japanese baseball roundup source, translated his discussion. The interview clip, untranslated, is below.
Yankees must pursue Japanese slugger Munetaka Murakami
He did it! He said Yankees! You heard him! The laughter from the other panelists … that’s … that’s good, right?
So, when can you repurpose your No. 55 Hideki Matsui jersey for Murakami (yes, he also wears 55)? Not so fast.
The Japanese slugger won’t post until after the 2025 season, at the earliest, and unless the Yankees can pack up their operations and bolt to the west coast, they still have a preferential disadvantage to overcome. New York’s braintrust has three years here to think about what they’ve done, what they can do, and how to stop that incessant talk show giggling.
That said, Murakami would be an ideal fit in New York, and makes more sense for the Yankees’ timeline of needs than any other recent Japanese import, from Yoshida to Senga. Hopefully, this dream doesn’t turn out like the Shohei Ohtani chase, with months upon months of “favorite” status, only for the free agency process to exclude the Yankees exclusively.