Shohei Ohtani's free agency charade might screw Yankees with Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Seriously, why is he doing this again?
Detroit Tigers v Los Angeles Angels
Detroit Tigers v Los Angeles Angels / John McCoy/GettyImages

Shohei Ohtani screwed the New York Yankees once before. It was back in 2017 when he was posted as an international free agent and eliminated the Bombers (before any other team!) in his transition to MLB despite them being the perceived favorites to sign him.

He ended up disappointing pretty much everybody by signing with the Angels, a team that would, as many expected, help take him nowhere. His career to date has been a marvel from an individual standpoint, but that's it.

Heading into the 2024 season, Ohtani's once again a free agent, this time ready to receive the largest contract in the history of the sport. His market is extremely limited because of the price tag he'll command. In theory, this shouldn't take very long. There's not a lot to sift through.

But his desire to make everything a mystery is causing the entire market to stall. There hasn't been a major signing (outside of the Phillies bringing back Aaron Nola). The biggest trade saw Jarren Kelenic go from Seattle to Atlanta. We're still waiting for all the dominos to fall.

The longer Ohtani takes, the more complicated all of this gets, especially with the other high-priced free agents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, etc.

Shohei Ohtani's free agency charade might screw Yankees with Yoshinobu Yamamoto

But his delayed choice might really do the Yankees in with Yamamoto, whose price tag is going up by the minute. Originally believed to receive somewhere in the $175 million range, Jim Bowden recently reported Yamamoto's market could balloon to $300 million.

Adding another $300 million contract to the Yankees' payroll would likely be problematic. But that's only half of it. Think of a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are believed to be the frontrunners for Ohtani. The longer they're left in the dark with all of their roster needs, the more likely they are to pounce on the next best thing to insure themselves. Per Bob Nightengale, they're the Yankees' biggest competitors for Yamamoto.

They already reportedly had plans to bring the two Japanese stars to LA. Very little would stop them from getting ultra aggressive for Yamamoto if Ohtani's silence makes them nervous.

It's been relatively under the radar, but the Dodgers are in just as a precarious situation as the Yankees, in danger of wasting the primes of two of their best players (Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman). They have a more flexible payroll. They have a greater need for starting pitching.

The clock is ticking. Every moment Yamamoto's stock rises and other contenders get desperate, the less likely it is the Yankees will land him, so they'd better have an eye on Snell for a contingency plan.