Do the New York Yankees have a good chance to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the 25-year-old Japanese ace who's quickly emerging as the darling of the offseason free agent pitching pool? Absolutely.
Do they already have a "done deal in place" because Brian Cashman went to Japan on Old-Timers' Day to talk shop? Absolutely not. Sorry, Cash, but Yamamoto being a priority for the Yankees won't stop other big-market teams from biting and making the process excrutiating.
Despite the Yankees' early claim to real estate on Yamamoto Island, the Mets remain undeterred. The right-hander, who's expected to command a $200+ million contract, has been the focus of the Flushing rumor mill in recent weeks, and rumors claim Steve Cohen doesn't plan to be outbid for the pitcher's services. That would mark the first time the Mets' head honcho has really interfered with the Yankees' free agent practices, despite being looming threat for the past three years. Apparently, there's no Aaron Judge-style detente between Hal Steinbrenner and Cohen when Japanese aces are involved.
In a recent mailbag,The Athletic's Brendan Kuty insinuated that any assumptions of an inside track to Yamamoto would be inaccurate, noting, "The competition for Yamamoto figures to be fierce."
Yankees Rumors: Plenty of competition for Yoshinobu Yamamoto
The Yankees have declared their intentions. That's it.
Remember the last time the Yankees were the presumptive favorites to land a Japanese superstar who was poised to set the market? Exactly.
Yamamoto would, objectively, be a get for the Yankees, even if he doesn't do a damned thing to improve their lineup. After all, it's difficult to call the rotation a strength, either, beyond Gerrit Cole. 2023 was supposed to be dominated by Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes Jr., and that trio barely appeared or had an impact.
These are the Yankees. If they'd like to charge to the front of the line for Yamamoto and trade for Juan Soto, they're certainly allowed to. No rotation upgrade would stop them from also doing reconnaissance work on the offense.
That said, it's far from a done deal that this is how the chips will fall, and when Yamamoto's posting period begins around Dec. 1, the world will learn whether Cashman had the inside track in September or just a plane ticket.