In the time since the Orix Buffaloes posted Yoshinobu Yamamoto for MLB free agency, he attended a Los Angeles Lakers game at Crypto.com Arena before returning to Japan.
That marked the start of holding virtual meetings with interested teams, though New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns are said to have flown overseas to begin their courting in person.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are also among notable teams that have been connected to Yamamoto.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, Yamamoto and his representatives are expected to begin the process of meeting with teams in person:
According to those league sources, Yamamoto will narrow down the teams after those initial remote meetings. He will then return to the United States to meet with finalists in person after MLB’s Winter Meetings, which take place from Dec. 4-7 in Nashville.
Behind Shohei Ohtani, Yamamoto arguably is the most coveted free agent this offseason. The 25-year-old projects as a rotation ace and figures to benefit from several teams being in the market for starting pitching.
Yamamoto went into free agency projected to receive a contract in the neighborhood of $200 million but there’s now some belief that could get closer to $300 million because of widespread interest.
The Mets figure to be aggressive in their pursuit of the three-time Eiji Sawamura Award winner (Nippon Professional Baseball’s version of the Cy Young) as they are coming off a disappointing season and traded Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the deadline this year.
Kodai Senga could be key to the Mets’ signing Yamamoto, who reportedly is not reluctant to join a team that already has an established Japanese player. Though, Yankees executives felt during the Winter Meetings they had separated themselves as the favorite for the right-hander.
Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 24 starts for the Buffaloes this year. Along with the Eiji Sawamura Award, Yamamoto ended his NPB by winning three MVPs in a row.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto deadline and posting guidelines
Yamamoto’s 45-day posting window is well underway and he faces a deadline of 2 p.m. PT on January 4, 2024, to sign with an MLB team.
The signing team is going to incur the cost of paying the Buffaloes a posting fee. That amount is due to be 20% of the first $25 million of Yamamoto’s contract, an additional 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of the remaining total.
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