Think the Yankees and Mets are in the clear to battle it out between boroughs for Yoshinobu Yamamoto? Think again.
The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander's free agency is expected to drag out far longer than Shohei Ohtani's, and the Dodgers may not have tilted the deck whatsoever on Saturday afternoon by agreeing to terms with the two-way star for $700 million (paid, with deferrals, through the year 2098).
While the idea of a "New York bidding war" has been treated derisively by non-New Yorkers, it really has seemed like the Yankees and Mets have dictated this chase. Steve Cohen has the budget of all budgets, and flew to Japan last week to make his intentions clear to his ace target's family. He's not planning on being denied.
Meanwhile, Yamamoto -- spotted in a Yankees hat on a two-year-old Instagram post -- reportedly values organizational prestige. The pinstripes mean a certain something. Turn them orange and blue, and they mostly mean "heartbreak". If the Yankees are willing to exceed $300 million in their offer, as has been reported by Andy Martino, it would be tough to see them being denied.
The Dodgers were considered a serious contender if they missed Ohtani and had to reallocate funds. Would they really spend one billion dollars on just two players? According to Jon Heyman on Saturday night, they absolutely would; the MLB insider claimed Los Angeles might just be the only organization that could absorb both deals. And, just like that, the path got a little more crowded again.
Dodgers still involved in Yankees, Mets Yoshinobu Yamamoto chase?
It's tough to know what to believe at this point -- again, Yamamoto has worn a Yankee hat and is days away from being wooed by Hideki Matsui -- but Dodgers insider David Vassegh recently claimed the righty is actually a fan of LA's team. Japanese tradition often prevents two stars from the nation from sharing the same locker room, but Yamamoto and Kodai Senga are purportedly prepared to do so in New York. Could the same accommodation happen in Los Angeles? Would Ohtani be on board, too?
In all, this sounds like a longshot, and both New York teams still seem more equipped to add Yamamoto after his stateside meetings conclude. But the Dodgers, without Ohtani's right arm in 2024, might be equally desperate for rotation help after losing Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, Lance Lynn, potentially Clayton Kershaw, and Julio Urías.
The Yankees and Mets are still well positioned to woo Yamamoto, but if the righty was previously viewed only as a consolation prize in the Ohtani chase, that should now chance. The Dodgers appear just as involved as they ever were, as they explore an uncharted economic stratosphere.