The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander is thought to command a contract approximating $200 million this offseason, and while inserting him into the Yankees' rotation isn't quite as important as figuring out how to bolster the lineup, a Yamamoto signing would rank somewhere between a necessity and a luxury. Despite all of Brian Cashman's legwork and global flight paths, it still might take Yamamoto opting for a slight discount in order for him to wind up in pinstripes.
Former Cubs veteran Frank Schwindel certainly did his part to secure such a deal throughout the 2023 season. In an article detailing just how determined Yamamoto is to succeed in the U.S. (and how likely his teammates believe that outcome to be), Schwindel revealed that he, a lifelong Yankee fan, insisted on telling Yamamoto over and over again that New York, and Yankee Stadium, are the best places to play in MLB.
Schwindel's bias comes from his childhood fandom; the current Orix Buffalo played just one series at Yankee Stadium during his time in the big leagues, going 2-for-13 in a three-game set last summer. But still, it feels good to dream.
Yankees fan Frank Schwindel spent 2023 convincing Yoshinobu Yamamoto to sign
Maybe Schwindel can find his way to the Yankees' dugout in 2024, too. The team does need a hitting coach after Sean Casey's departure.
In the end, Yamamoto might not go to the highest bidder, but all interested teams must be in the same ballpark, no matter how historic the ballpark they call home really is. Schwindel is doing his part, but he has to battle Kodai Senga of the Mets in the cache department, which could end up being a toughie.
But hey, sometimes your locker-mate is your closest friend in the game. And sometimes your locker-mate is a diehard Yankee fan who's no longer affiliated with the Cubs and is free to feed tips and tricks to Brian Cashman. Don't be surprised when David Cone shows up to the pitch meeting with a bottle of Yamamoto's favorite wine.
"How did you know?!" Schwindel, baby. Schwindel.