3 'surprise teams' that ought to make Yoshinobu Yamamoto an offer

We know the favorites to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto — Yankees, Mets, Dodgers — but who should shock the world with a major last-second push?

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan / RICHARD A. BROOKS/GettyImages
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1. Why aren't the Cubs in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto?

Remember when the Chicago Cubs announced their intention to contend by signing Craig Counsell away from their bitter rivals on the biggest managerial contract in MLB history? Well, it has been crickets since then. The latest buzz is that Chicago won't even meet Cody Bellinger's asking price. Chicago already lost Jeimer Candelario to the Reds, and Marcus Stroman has one foot out the door. Where is Jed Hoyer's big, bold move?

It could have been Ohtani, in theory, but the Cubs were removed from that race before it even got started. The same can be said for Yamamoto. There was a time when Chicago was considered a legitimate destination for the three-time Nippon Professional Baseball MVP, but quickly the Cubs' place in that race was overtaken by the likes of Philadelphia and Toronto.

The Cubs are dangerously close to ending free agency without a significant addition. Sure, Rhys Hoskins would be cool, but is he alone going to lift Chicago above last season's 83 wins and into the postseason? How far can Craig Counsell take a bullpen that isn't stocked with the requisite talent to compete?

Counsell is a great pitchers' coach, but the value of that is dampened if the Cubs don't actually have enough quality pitchers to capitalize. Yamamoto is not only a true No. 1 ace, he's young — with the potential to lead the next decade of pitching at Wrigley Field. Chicago has the market size and franchise prestige to pique Yamamoto's interest. Lots of history has been made in a Cubs uniform. But, for whatever reason, the Cubs are getting cheap right when things appear to be looking up.

Yamamoto and Justin Steele is a great 1-2 punch. Justin Steele and Jameson Taillon? Less great.

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