MLB Rumors: 3 best Yoshinobu Yamamoto destinations after Ohtani deal

Where should Yoshinobu Yamamoto sign?

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan
Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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The baseball world turns its attention toward Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He is the most anticipated free agent left on the market, with a reported contract value that could exceed $300 million as the bidding for his services intensifies.

Shohei Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Dodgers on a record-breaking $700 million contract. Now, the only barrier between an onslaught of free agent signings is Yamamoto. He is known to have every big-market team in his ear, with the New York Mets and New York Yankees considered heavy favorites.

But, money talks, and there's a chance other teams can outbid the New York squads. If not, winning also talks. Neither New York team did enough winning last season.

Yamamoto is a unique free agent — he's 25 years old, with one of the strongest pre-MLB résumés in recent memory. It's hard to find pitchers that young available to the highest bidder, much less a pitcher with three straight professional MVP awards and Triple Crowns under his belt. Yamamoto was a dominant force for the NPB's Orix Buffaloes in 2023, going 16-6 in 23 starts last season with a 1.21 ERA and 0.884 WHIP.

Just about every team that can afford Yamamoto should want him. He's going to produce straight away, and there's an element of longevity seldom found in free agent starting pitchers. While we know the favorites, here are the best destinations for Yamamoto among the teams viably connected to him in free agency.

3. Yoshinobu Yamamoto can cement Yankees as contenders

The Yankees took a major step forward with the Juan Soto trade. After struggling to score points last season, New York will center its offense on arguably the two best hitters in the American League. Aaron Judge should be back to full strength. Soto is 25 years old with MVP upside, coming off a season in which he slashed .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs and 109 RBIs in 568 ABs for the San Diego Padres.

That alone should appeal to Yamamoto, whose age aligns perfectly with Soto. Yamamoto would also get to join the reigning AL Cy Young winner in Gerrit Cole, immediately giving the Yankees one of the best one-two rotation punches in the MLB. Cole went 15-4 for the 82-win Yankees, posting a 2.63 ERA and 0.981 WHIP — both top marks in the AL. He now has a sub-1.000 WHIP in three of the last five years. The 33-year-old also led the league in innings pitched (209.0) while accumulating 222 strikeouts.

There isn't a more bankable ace for Yamamoto to tether himself to and learn from than Cole. Yamamoto could desire the spotlight, but he will get plenty of shine even as the No. 2 pitcher in New York. The Yankees have the star power to win now, the youth to project forward, and the spending power to reload at the first sign of trouble. It's fair to express qualms about the management structure — Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone have both worn out their welcome, to varying degrees — but New York is New York, and the Yankees will never stay quiet for too long.

The Yankees check a ton of boxes, plain and simple.