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New York Mets are expected to be strong suitors for top Japanese free agent hurler
Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be one of the most sought after free agent pitchers this coming offseason. The 25-year-old hurler has been connected to the Red Sox and numerous other clubs through the game. One team that is expected to make a major push for Yamamoto is the New York Mets.
It makes sense with Mets owner Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and the team’s need for frontline starting pitching after dealing off Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the trade deadline.
Any team that signs Yamamoto will get the righty during his mid-20’s. To add a pitcher of his caliber at his age is rare in the day-and-age of free agency. Most typical MLB free agent pitchers reach the market in their early 30’s.
The Mets already have one top starter in Kodai Senga and pairing Yamamoto alongside him is going to be tantalizing to new president of baseball ops David Stearns.
Yamamoto is reportedly looking to play in a big market, Boston, New York and Los Angeles immediately check those boxes.
The Japanese superstar is reportedly open to playing alongside another fellow Japanese pitcher in the big leagues. According to a story written in The Athletic, Yamamoto enjoyed his experience in the World Baseball Classic and being around fellow stars have helped influence his thinking.
Senga reportedly told the Mets ownership and front office he wants to win.
Both Senga and Yamamoto share the same agency, Wasserman. It’s unknown if that will give New York any leverage in negotiations.
The one thing the Mets can do to pitch Yamamoto is how easily and quickly Senga adapted to MLB. The veteran righty posted a 2.98 ERA with 202 strikeouts over 166 1/3 innings for a team that had aspirations to play in October. Instead the Mets season went sideways and the club traded off pieces to rebuild or retool for the future.
There’s a lot to like about Yamamoto outside of him being only 25-years-old. He went 17-6 last season with a 1.17 ERA with 176 strikeouts and 28 walks.
Many believe that Yamamoto will command a contract in the $200 million range. That immediately gives teams like Boston, both New York clubs and Los Angeles an advantage.
The Red Sox need to make a splash and add young controllable frontline starting pitching, but so do the Mets.
New York has the cash to spend on Yamamoto, but with Stearns in the fold, they could look to begin the process to replenish their farm system, make smaller moves to impact their roster and continue to focus on 2025.
Another option for Stearns is pivoting and not focus on Yamamoto and trade some of the young pieces the Mets have for Corbin Burnes. Stearns was the baseball leader in Milwaukee before stepping down this past season. He has the familiarity with Burnes and pairing him with Senga would be a lethal one-two punch atop the Mets rotation.
It feels unlikely New York will trade from their system after acquiring top prospects for their veteran starters this past season. If the Mets decide to sit out the Yamamoto sweepstakes, fans will have a strong sense as to where the team will be going the next couple of years.
Yamamoto is available, whoever lands the Japanese import will have an immediate ace for their rotation. The usual suspects could all use the right-hander, Boston makes sense, but the Mets could be the sneaky winner.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique
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