The MLB world is awaiting a decision from two-time American League MVP and Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. The ace pitcher and slugger is a free agent, but it's not currently known where he is leaning toward signing. There is another player who has teams awaiting a decision, and that is Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The three-time Pacific League MVP winner for Nippon Professional Baseball is viewed as a high-upside pitcher teams are willing to throw a blank check to.
But, who is Yamamoto favoring signing with?
During an appearance on Foul Territory, USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale discussed a variety of topics. When talking about the New York Yankees, he called the AL East team "the favorites for Yamamoto." Nightengale said that Yamamoto is the opposite of Ohtani because "he wants the spotlight."
Nightengale thinks it's between the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, but doesn't rule out the New York Mets.
Yankees believed to be favorites to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto
While the Mets have been heavily linked to Yamamoto for quite some time, the Yankees have also been prominent. Let's not forget that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was in attendance for one of Yamamoto's game in early September, in which he threw a no-hitter.
Last year, the Yankees signed Carlos Rodon to bolster their starting rotation, which was viewed as a strength. While Gerrit Cole did win the American League Cy Young award, the rotation was hit hard by injuries and off-field matters.
Carlos Rodon dealt with back and left forearm issues and struggled upon making his return. Nestor Cortes missed most of the season due to a left rotator cuff strain. Frankie Montas had just one start at the end of the season after recovering from right shoulder surgery. Luis Severino struggled mightily in starts after recovering from a lat injury. Domingo German was placed on the restricted list in August to undergo alcohol abuse treatment following a reported clubhouse incident.
Adding Yamamoto, who is one of the top starting pitchers available this winter, would be a huge get for the Yankees, who missed out on the playoffs after finishing 82-80. It should help the team make fans a bit happier, who were frustrated with the team's play not just in 2023 but in years before that.
In seven seasons with the Orix Buffaloes in the NPB, Yamamoto recorded a 1.82 ERA, a 0.935 WHIP, a 70-29 win-loss record, 922 strikeouts, and 206 walks in 897.0 innings.
Yamamoto isn't expected to sign at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. this week. He is scheduled to fly to the United States to meet with teams within the next week. Yamamoto has until Jan. 4 to decide before the posting window closes.