Unless you haven’t heard, there is a momentary pitcher out of Japan by the name of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and boy, is he special. In Nippon Professional Baseball, he won the Cy Young equivalent the last 3 years, the MVP the last 3 years, and the Triple Crown the last 3 years. This guy has been on an absolute tear in Japanese professional baseball and is now ready to make his presence felt in Major League Baseball. Because of his impressive numbers and being arguably the best free agent pitcher of the 2023–2024 baseball offseason, the Mets have made him a top priority these past couple months, and after falling quickly behind in the Ohtani sweepstakes, Steve Cohen has made Yamamoto his top priority this offseason. In this fanpost, I will explore the events that have transpired with Yomamato regarding the meetings and why I personally think that sometime, possibly in the very near future, but definitely before opening day, Yamampoto will be wearing that famous blue and orange in Queens, New York.
Oh, right, one of the most important things that makes Yamamoto so special is his age. Compared to the other top free agent pitchers on the market, he is at least 5 years younger. At the ripe age of 25, Yamamoto is still a couple years away from entering his prime, which is a crazy thing to say after his recent accomplishments in Japan. Along with his age comes the lack of significant injuries he has had throughout his professional career. The Mets have struggled in the past with either aging pitchers or pitchers with injury problems; just look at Verlnder and Scherzer, who signed big deals last year but are no longer with the term, and injuries strayed them away from signing Degrom to a long-term deal. The good thing about Yamamoto is that he is a young, injury-free pitcher who has a tremendous future ahead of him, and that comes with a pretty penny. The bidding for Yamamot started at around 200 million dollars and has risen to around 300 million dollars. We have seen Steve Cohen spend lots of money on players, but it hasn’t really panned out. Will this number starve him away? I think not.
What we know so far is that Yamomoto spent the last weekend in New York City, meeting with both the Yankees and the Mets. And while the weather was good for him on Friday, it was not pretty good for Saturday or Sunday, but from the reports, that did not stop Cohen from having the star pitcher over at his house for dinner in Connecitcut. According to sources, also at that dinner were the Mets president of baseball operations, the Mets manager, and the Mets pitching coach. This is his second in-person formal meeting that he has had with Steve Cohen, at least that we know of. In November, the Mets owner made the flight all the way to Japan to meet with Yamomoto, and that has been one of the main reasons people think he will sign with the Mets, but we will get to that later. No one knows what they ate or what specifically they talked about, and we probably will never know. But what we do know is that the Mets have had multiple dinners with Yamomoto and have expressed serious interest in the young, talented Japanese pitcher.
Now for why I personally think the Mets will sign Yamomoto: One big pull in recent history for signing Japanese players straight out of Japan is having current Japanese players already on your roster. You have to remember that Yamamoto has lived in Japan his entire life; he didn't grow up going to baseball games with his dad or playing baseball in the States as a young adult. Yamomoto will be over 6,500 miles away from home, and while 300 million dollars in the bank account will make the transition a whole lot easier, this is a scary thing for anyone. With Senga already on the team, a familiar face will help make Yamomoto feel a lot better. Along with Senga being on the team, the Mets often built in extra rest days into the rotation to help preserve the arms of their starting pitchers. Preserving the arms of pitchers is always a good sign for teams, and signing Yamamoto is definitely a pro.
Another reason why I think Yamomoto will sign with the Mets is the thought Steve Cohen has put behind these dinners and meetings. The Yankees, that we know of, did not fly all the way to Japan, and according to some reports, it seemed like the Yankees scrambled to put one together on Sunday while the Mets meeting was clearly a priority. To most people, the Yankees are very professional and seem to have things in order and ready for every free agent that comes to New York. The outside impression from Yamamoto is that the Mets really want him to play for their team, and the Yankees would obviously like it but aren’t pursuing it the way Steve Cohen has been.
Yamamoto is one of the best pitchers to come out of Japan on a long team, and his young arm and lack of injuries are encouraging signs for a promising baseball career. Steve Coen's overall aggressiveness and desire to sing have been shown in recent days, and with many outlets saying a decision is coming soon, don’t be surprised if he is a New York Met.