MLB Rumors: Yoshinobu Yamamoto not on flight to Toronto, but has chosen a favorite

One team is reportedly viewed as the frontrunner to sign free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) reacts against Korea in a
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) reacts against Korea in a / Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports
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MLB free agency is back to moving to a crawl. After a brief surge in signings after Shohei Ohtani chose to sign a record-breaking contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the baseball world now waits to see where Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto will sign.

Yamamoto is the prized starting pitcher in free agency despite the fact he's never pitched in MLB. But at 25 years old and with an impressive resume in Nippon Professional Baseball, a number of high-profile teams are in pursuit of signing him. With Yamamoto entering his second wave of interviews, fans may wonder who the favorite is to sign him.

According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the New York Yankees are "viewed by many as the frontrunner" for Yamamoto and that he still thinks that's the case.

Now, of course, Morosi is the same reporter who claimed Shohei Ohtani was on a flight to Toronto. That, of course, turned out not to be true -- so please proceed with caution. The truth of the matter is everything is hearsay.

"It would take, I believe, a tremendous offer from either the Mets or the Dodgers to pull him away from the Yankees, given his longstanding connection and affinity there," said Morosi. "I also think that the Dodgers, when you think about their sales pitch to have Shohei Ohtani there making that offer is pretty unique. So by all accounts, I believe it's going to be one of those three teams. Mets, Yankees, or Dodgers.'

Yankees viewed as frontrunners to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

This is certainly some good news if you are a Yankees fan. But as we all know this offseason, nothing is given until you see the final, confirmed reports of where Yamamoto is signing.

The Yankees have been linked to Yamamoto this year, with general manager Brian Cashman and a Yankees contingency watching the pitcher throw a no-hitter back in September. The Yankees have been there with the Mets and the Dodgers as the most consistently linked teams to the three-time NPB Pacific League MVP and Triple Crown winner (ERA, strikeouts, wins).

This past season, the Yankees missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2016 after finishing with an 82-80 record. After being under scrutiny from the media and fans, the Yankees have made some big moves so far this offseason that made them look like the team of old. The first was a trade for outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox, and then the blockbuster deal with the San Diego Padres for superstar Juan Soto.

With the amount of injuries the Yankees starting rotation underwent this past season, the team is looking to bolster it. Yamamoto would be the biggest move they can make

In his seven years with NPB's Orix Buffaloes, 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 (172 games).

Yamamoto's posting window will close on Jan. 4, so the clock is ticking for him to sign with a team. Per Morosi, the Yankees appear to be the favorites. But we won't know if that is the case until we see confirmation that the AL East team finalized a deal.

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