Brian Cashman caused quite an stir in Yankeeland when he was spotted in Japan taking in Yoshinobu Yamamoto's no-hitter live this past September. And in the time since that fateful evening, the Japanese right-hander has been heavily linked to the Bronx. At just 25 years old, Yamamoto could become an integral part of the Yankees' next core if signed to a long-term deal.
Pros: The Yankees will be in need of starting pitching this offseason as they will watch Luis Severino and Frankie Montas walk in free agency, leaving them with a projected rotation of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Clarke Schmidt, Nestor Cortes and Michael King. With Cortes becoming a question mark after an injury-riddled 2023 season, and King never having pitched a full season of a starter's workload, the Yankees will have plenty of leftover innings that'll need to be taken care of.
Yamamoto more than fits the bill, as he pitched a solid 164 innings in 2023, likely his best professional season. He put up a 1.21 ERA while striking out 26.6% of batters and walking just 4.4%. He surrendered just two home runs all year. That strikeout-to-walk ratio would've been fourth-best in the majors this year, placing him ahead of Cole, Zac Gallen and Pablo López.
The Yankees only have two established starters under team control after the 2025 season, so adding Yamamoto would also give them some much-needed depth and security for the foreseeable future.
Cons: There's always a risk with free agents coming over from other leagues because of the necessary adjustment period. Yankee fans will always remember the disastrous Kei Igawa signing back in 2007, as well as how Chien-Ming Wang failed to rebound after a 2008 injury.
Of course, Yamamoto is younger than those guys were when they made the switch. He also had a better final NPB season than the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Ohtani. But if he can't make the transition, the Yankees will have hundreds of millions tied up in Yamamoto, an aging Gerrit Cole, and Carlos Rodón for quite some time.