While conflicting rumors have emerged pegging Yoshinobu Yamamoto's free agent decision for both Christmas and New Years, the bottom line is he must decide by Jan. 4, the date set by the current Japanese posting system.
That's a hard deadline, and consdering the physical examinations and contract machinations that have to be settled ahead of the buzzer, odds are he's going to be required to come to a conclusion a little earlier -- even if he doesn't want to.
What do we know by now? The Yankees and Mets are very much battling it out for Yamamoto's rights. Steve Cohen and the Mets and Brian Cashman and the Yankees both received second meetings in New York over the weekend. The right-hander reportedly requested time with the Yanks as a follow-up to his dinner with Cohen. Did he also request the Mets meeting and the cross-country flight? That's been reported by Andy Martino, and would seem to indicate both teams are being taken seriously as finalists.
Where will both teams land financially? An early-week reported push toward urgency brought the rumor mill to $300+ million, with Jim Bowden claiming that both the Red Sox and Giants had earnestly crossed that threshold. Of course, that was later reported to either be an initial float/informal offer, if not an outright lie. Formal bidding began on Monday, and while Cohen may blow away the field and the Yankees may have to approach, if not exceed, his whims, it seems the Dodgers are residing in a safer range.
Per reports that emerged Tuesday, LA's braintrust is weighing taking an uncharacteristic risk outside their comfort zone and offering $250+ million.
Dodgers' Yoshinobu Yamamoto offer below $300 million. Will Yankees top it?
If that's as high as they plan to go, odds are the Mets offer dwarfs theirs. $250 million, plus a posting fee, also represents a far more comfortable guidepost for the Yankees. Given Yamamoto's reported preference for prestige, it seems likely he would choose either the Dodgers or Yankees over the Mets, if the three teams' offers are comparable.
Now, the Dodgers (and probably the Yankees) must wait to see how high the "middle ground" they seek actually climbs. Because there's another team out there with deep pockets and a desperate need for a centerpiece that earned an on-site meeting.