Though the early indications are the New York Yankees won't spend excessively to fix their roster issues this offseason, it's believed they're going to be "involved" to get the one or two guys they want, with most of the other action coming on the trade market.
The problem, however, is that a few of their rumored star-gets might be among the most expensive. A lot of analysts and insiders have them linked to Cody Bellinger (who's projected to get somewhere around $200 million) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto (who's also expected to be in the $200 million range).
Bellinger's market isn't exactly expansive at that price, so there's a chance the Yankees get lucky with dwindling interst in the former MVP. But Yamamoto presents a much larger issue.
Per the latest buzz, fellow free agent pitcher Aaron Nola is looking for a seven-year, $210 million contract, and he's probably the third-best pitcher on the market. Some might argue Jordan Montgomery's emergence puts him above Nola, too.
So if the Yankees are gunning for Yamamoto, the second-ranked free agent by most publications, Nola's rumored demands could further drive up the price for the Japanese right-hander and put Brian Cashman in uncomfortable territory.
Could Aaron Nola's rumored contract demands hurt Yankees with Yoshinobu Yamamoto?
We're reaching the point where there are no longer serious concerns about Japanese players making the transition to MLB. Yamamoto's ridiculous 1.72 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in Japan probably won't sustain in America, but so far Shohei Ohtani and Kodai Senga have given fans a pretty accurate preview of what's to come.
That means he probably should command more than Nola, who, while his MLB track record and longevity cannot be denied, is very much not an ace as evidenced by his inconsistency since debuting in 2015.
Nola is entering his age-31 season. He has a career 3.72 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 1.13 WHIP in 235 career starts. He's a one-time All-Star. He's placed in the Cy Young race three times, getting a top-three nod just once. He only began his postseason resume in 2022. Though he's made at least 32 starts each year since 2018 (and he maxed out at 12 during the shortened 2020), two of his last three campaigns featured ERAs of 4.63 and 4.46 (his contract year).
Meanwhile, Yamamoto's run of form at the moment is almost unheard of. He's entering his age-25 season and will be offering far more of his prime than Nola will to any team that signs him. Yamamoto's professional career began when he was 18 and he's just 455 innings shy of the veteran right-hander's MLB total (1,422).
Though this may all be smoke and Nola may not end up getting the money he wants, it's definitely not where the Yankees want this discussion trending. Snell is entering his first free agency after capturing his (likely) second Cy Young award). Montgomery is entering his first free agency after leading the Texas Rangers to a World Series. Their asking prices may increase as a result of their recent success.
And so the game goes. Yamamoto's cost ain't going down if this is the reality. If the Yankees want their guy, they'll have to be unrelenting, which is something fans haven't exactly been accustomed to since 2010.