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  • Derek McAdam

Losing Out On Yoshinobu Yamamoto Is a Blessing In Disguise For the Yankees

Losing Out On Yoshinobu Yamamoto Is a Blessing In Disguise For the Yankees

By Derek McAdam

December 27, 2023

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Over the years, there have been plenty of free agency battles that the New York Yankees have entered. They have won some, but have also lost out on many. The most recent loss was for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the 25-year old phenom pitcher from Japan whose stats look as if they come from a video game. The Los Angeles Dodgers won his services, signing him to a 12-year, $325 million contract, which does not include the posting fee of more than $50 million that the team will have to pay to Yamamoto’s former team in Japan.


The Dodgers have landed the biggest prize in the off-season, and possibly ever, in Shohei Ohtani. Between these two players, the Dodgers are committing more than $1 billion over at least the next decade, an amount that not even the Yankees have reached for two players. While the Dodgers are celebrating this signing as a major boost to their starting rotation, Yankee fans should not be upset about not acquiring him for several reasons.


First, the Yankees made a strong offer for Yamamoto, which was reported to be at 10-years, $300 million with some opt-outs in the deal. In terms of AAV, it was nearly $3 million more per year, although the contract was two years less. But the Yankees did not skimp on this offer like they have for others. Although it is probably a good thing that the Yankees were unable to sign this player, Patrick Corbin is the first name that comes to mind, as the Yankees offered significantly less money than the Washington Nationals.


Offering a contract that would make Yamamoto the fourth current player on the team that have a $300+ million contract, along with Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, is not cheap, so Cashman definitely gets a pass on that argument.


The second reason, and possibly the most important, is that it seems as if Yamamoto had his mind made up that he was going to be a Dodger and used the market to drive his price up. There’s nothing wrong with using this tactic, especially if it involves the Yankees or, now, the New York Mets. After all, for most players, it’s about getting as much money as they possibly can.


But another reason why he may have chosen the Dodgers is its proximity to Japan. Traveling from New York as opposed to Los Angeles is an extra five hours tacked on, which makes a big difference when making a flight across the Pacific. I surely would want to be as close as I could to my family, so I understand that reasoning.


Also, playing on the Dodgers is going to be much easier for fans in Japan to watch their games. Additionally, the TV audience in Japan for Dodger games will also skyrocket because of Ohtani joining the team. Yamamoto may have thought that his own exposure would greatly benefit by playing for the Dodgers, and if he thought that, he’d be absolutely right.


Last, and possibly the most important reason not to get upset over losing out on Yamamoto, is that the Yankees would have been tied up in a long-term deal for a player that has yet to throw a single pitch in the Majors. The Yankees last signing straight from the Japanese league was Masahiro Tanaka, who gave the team seven good seasons.


However, there is always a risk with these types of signings. While Japan is probably the second best country to play professional baseball in, it is still a step below the Major Leagues. Some players come over and light up the league, like Ohtani, while some never make the adjustment and maybe don’t have the MLB career that they were projected to have. If Yamamoto’s MLB career didn’t pan out the way everyone thought, and I’m not cheering for this to happen, the Yankees would be stuck with an overpaid pitcher that they wouldn’t be able to ship somewhere else.


Plus, not being tied down with his long-term contract allows the Yankees to focus their efforts on other free agent pitchers. Not that I’m advocating for this, but they can now decide to pursue another starter such as Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell. Brian Cashman has also indicated that the Yankees may look to bolster the bullpen with a few signings if they missed out on Yamamoto. So they may now turn their attention to that area and possibly pursue free agents such as Josh Hader, Jordan Hicks, or Robert Stephenson, just to name a few. It also could be a combination of these two, as they may acquire a starter or two and still plan to boost the bullpen. Let’s see what happens there.


Overall, the Yankees definitely missed out on securing Yamamoto and adding a No. 2 piece to pitch behind Cole. However, it may end up being a blessing in disguise for the team, as they are now able to add more pieces to the team that will come cheaper than Yamamoto. After all, this is not a team that is simply one piece away from contending for a World Series. The more help they can get, the better they will become. And they still need plenty of help at this point.

38 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 28, 2023

Getting back on topic, another factor in Yamamoto's decision, not to be taken lightly, is the rumor (if true) that he was a big Dodgers fan as a kid growing up in Japan. Speaking for myself, as a HUGE Yankee fan, born in the Bronx, and growing up in both New York City and New Jersey, if I had the talent to be a Major League Baseball star, and I had to choose between taking $300 million (10 years) to play for the Yankees or taking $325 million (12 years) to play for the Dodgers, who I NEVER rooted for, I would, without hesitation, take the $300 million (10 years) to play for the team I had been rooting fo…

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 28, 2023
Replying to

My being a lifelong Yankee fan would win out despite the $25 million less, and despite the disarray, and despite the direction of the ballclub (I would use my "talents", if I actually had them....lol.....to CHANGE the direction of the ballclub for the better). I would deal with the "not a great place to play" because as a native New Yorker (originally), I would know what I was getting myself into, and be willing to do so, because none of those negatives would ever take away the fact that the Yankees are my favorite team, the only team I would want to play for, and a team I would not have the heart to play against if I took the…

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 27, 2023

To me, the "blessing in disguise" is that now, instead of pouring all of that money into one player, the Yankees can now (I hope) pour all of that money into MULTIPLE players who can help them. They need MULTIPLE acquisitions to bring them back to where they need to be, with an excellent shot of playing in, and winning, a World Series. TWO quality starting pitchers. Or one quality starting pitcher and a DESPERATELY NEEDED 9th Inning CLOSER (Josh Hader, I hope). Or one quality starting pitcher and Cody Bellinger who would allow Aaron Judge to move out of centerfield, while providing great defense in the outfield, "made for Yankee Stadium left-handed power" as well as a backu…

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yankeesblog
Dec 28, 2023
Replying to

All true. Bellinger could still easily get 10/$200 million. If we're talking about spreading $300 million over 10 years to sign 3 players including a top closer then there won't be much left over to do that.

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yankeesblog
Dec 27, 2023

Wow. Talk about sour grapes. It is NOT a good thing that the Yankees missed out on Yamomoto. He was clearly an integral part of their off-season plan and they whiffed on him by making the third-best offer. They did skimp on their offer compared to what the Dodgers, Mets and Angels were offering. After making such a big show of ho w much they wanted Yamomoto they came in third. The New York Yankees. The Evil Empire. The "fully operational death star".


Yes the Yankees avoided the risk in signing Yamomoto but they also forfeited whatever benefits, which could be very substantial. Yes, the NPB is not MLB but Yamomoto dominated it. He's as good a bet as there…


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 27, 2023
Replying to

Nestor and Rodon are two huge question marks.


You can't dress them up as anything other than that.


Nestor has one career year with over 100 innings pitched. Yup, just one. He pitched to a 4.97 ERA last year. His ERA+ was below league average at 87. He threw only 63.1 innings.


If he was a free agent, no one would recommend signing him as a #2 or #3 starter. They'd all say (correctly) that he ptojects, at best, as a #4 or #5 guy. B-R projects him to pitch 105 innings in 2024.


No, not a sure thing.


Rodon pitched only 64 innings last year. He had an ERA of 6.85. His ERA+ was a horrific 63. Over …


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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Dec 27, 2023

Two notes: Narita to Newark non-stop is about 12 1/2 hours; to LAX it's about 10 hours. Going back, Newark is 14 1/2 hours; LAX is a little under 12. So it's about a 2 1/2 hour difference each way, though there are more nonstops to/from LA -- I was surprised to find none to JFK. Also, FWIW, I suspect YY will be flying at least business class, which has lie-flattable seats that are actually pretty good for sleeping.


In the summer, Japan is 16 hours ahead of New York (EDT) and 19 ahead of LA (PDT). A 7 pm game thus would begin at 11 am the next day in Japan if played in New York, 2 pm i…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Dec 27, 2023
Replying to

A few minutes on Travelocity is all it takes!

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etbkarate
Dec 27, 2023

"Last, and possibly the most important reason not to get upset over losing out on Yamamoto, is that the Yankees would have been tied up in a long-term deal for a player that has yet to throw a single pitch in the Majors."


BINGO!!!

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 27, 2023
Replying to

But, why do we care?


Again, this is a narrative the Yankees have forced us to care about.


"Oh, no, the player costs a lot of money."


The Yankees have the financial might to afford the best (and most expensive) players.


I'd like the Yankees to have a 40-man roster (not just the big league 26-man roster) of $300 million players.


It's not my money - and the watching costs approach has brought us ZERO World Series appearances.


I want the Yankees' focus to be winning - not a salary tax.

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