The Yankees' full-throttle pursuit of right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto appeared to turn on a dime the moment Shohei Ohtani deferred the vast majority of his contract into the 2030s. That made a union between the two Japanese stars possible in Hollywood. Prior to Ohtani's bold contractual decision, the dual addition never would've worked, even if the pair improbably agreed to buck Japanese tradition and join forces. After his creative financing? It felt like a fait accompli.
That's not how Yamamoto wants New Yorkers to see it, though. The right-hander opened up to the New York Post's Joel Sherman this weekend after reporting to Dodgers spring training, attempting to assure jilted Yankees (and Mets) fans that there was more to it than Ohtani, a force the NYC franchises could never hope to replicate.
In fact, the conclusion to the spiraling Yamamoto bidding -- which was supposed to settle around $200 million before the Dodgers and Mets decided his World Baseball Classic data was enough evidence to blow up the market -- was more about the "organization."
Yankees, Mets come up short on "long-term success" in Yoshinobu Yamamoto's eyes
Put on your earnesty hat, try to be open to the possibility, and let Yamamoto tell it:
"In a clubhouse interview with The Post, Yamamoto said through an interpreter that the New York teams 'communicated with me that they were really serious about having me on their team.' He said he was serious as well and said that location — it has been believed the West Coast was where he wanted to sign — was not an overwhelming factor. Instead, 'I really got the impression that the Dodgers were very successful for a very long time. And just that the atmosphere with the organization was really good.'
"So the Dodgers won a frenzied bidding war. The expectation when the offseason began was that Yamamoto would do well to push above $200 million. But this is where modernity really enters."
Yeah ... nah. Ohtani definitely pushed things past the finish line.
The Dodgers have been the gold standard franchise over the course of the past decade, earning just one shortened-season title for their trouble. The Yankees? Say what you will about their post-2009 inability to get over the hump, but there is no clearer representative of being "very successful for a very long time" than the Yankees, the franchise that has frustrated its rivals into oblivion since 1923.
If not for the Dodgers' 60-game World Series, the two franchises might very well be viewed identically. But one of them signed the face of baseball this offseason, and said face of baseball moved mountains of money around to pave the way for his countryman to join him. No matter how much face Yamamoto tries to save, that'll always be the reality of his choice.