Yankees were never in Yoshinobu Yamamoto race based on comments at Dodgers presser

Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Los Angeles Dodgers Introduce Yoshinobu Yamamoto / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

And that's exactly how you "play" the free agency game. The mystique and timing of Yoshinobu Yamamoto's posting couldn't have come at a better juncture for the right-hander, and his plan came to fruition when he chose the Los Angeles Dodgers over the New York Yankees last week.

The right-hander agreed to a 12-year, $325 million contract with LA and though the Yankees' offer fell short of that, New York was willing to give Yamamoto the highest AAV of any deal he was presented with over a 10-year period. The Yankees' offer also gave him an opt out after five years (the earliest of any other offer) and paid him the most money in the first five years of any other offer.

At that point, an extra two years and $25 million wasn't going to change Yamamoto's mind, who essentially used Steve Cohen and the Mets as leverage (they were the ones who made the $325 million offer), gave the Dodgers a chance to match, and then signed where he always planned on signing when the match was made.

Though Shohei Ohtani signing with the Dodgers probably helped in some way too, it wasn't the deciding factor. Yamamoto told the media himself that he probably would've been a Dodger regardless of Ohtani's decision, which confirms the suspicion among the baseball community at large.

So again, for all the Yankees fans incensed about the team not having the highest offer, that had nothing to do with it. New York actually presented Yamamoto with the best possible offer for his situation and he chose the Dodgers anyway. That further confirms the Yankees matching the Mets' offer (or narrowly exceeding it) probably would've done nothing.

Yankees were never in Yoshinobu Yamamoto race based on comments at Dodgers presser

There's a chance the Yankees probably had some intel about Yamamoto's preference and still stayed in the race until the bitter end. Also, if they had knowledge he preferred LA, their only other option was to differentiate their offer. It would've objectively been crazy to go beyond $325 million ($250 million already felt like too much) for a guy who has never pitched in MLB, so getting creative with opt outs and front-loading the deal was definitely the next best move.

The front office already added Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo to improve the offense, which was the far more concerning problem the last few years. The rotation has four capable starters, though some possess question marks. All that's really needed is some reinforcements now that the most appealing candidates are off the market (unless the Yankees want to spend top dollar for Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery) and see where they're at come the trade deadline, since we can expect the offense to keep them afloat with the new additions.

The Yankees (and no other team) can have anything and everything. It just so happened Yamamoto's free agency came at the most opportune time. The Dodgers had a lot of money to spend. The Mets can always spend (and now need a ton of pitching). And the Yankees were in a desperate spot (as were the Blue Jays and Red Sox after missing out on countless free agents themselves).

In the end, this is much easier to stomach knowing Yamamoto probably always preferred LA for various reasons. Now that it's done and we know the Yankees extended themselves as far as they possibly could have, it's time to put this to bed.