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  • E.J. Fagan

The Yankees Should Be All Over Yoshinobu Yamamoto

by EJ Fagan

November 1, 2023

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NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.


Please check out EJ's substack page for more great articles.

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The Yankees need hitting. Like, a lot of hitting. They need a third basemen. They need a left fielder. They need a center fielder until Dominguez returns. When the Yankees signed Carlos Rodon last year, it was a bit of a head scratcher, because they needed just as much hitting a year ago. They could have one of the best staffs in baseball next year if Nestor Cortes and Rodon rebound.

All of that said, I want the Yankees to sign a pitcher.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto is really good. Check out the highlights from his no-hitter in September, which Brian Cashman made a very long flight to watch:



Yamamoto has the classic Japanese ace pitch mix: great control of a mid-90s fastball and a killer hard splitter. He can manipulate the splitter to get a little more movement, or to dive straight down. On top of that, he has a great 12-6 curveball. All three pitches tunnel insanely well. If he were a few inches taller (he’s listed at 5’10”), I’d call him the perfect pitcher.


His stats in Japan are insane. His career ERA in the NPB is 1.82, and that includes his 18-21 year-old seasons with pedestrian ERAs in the low-2.00s. Over the last four years, his ERA has been: 1.21, 1.16, 1.68, 1.39. That’s a run on par, arguably better, with anything that Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Daisuke Matsuzaka did in the NPB. The dude is a stud.

More importantly, he is young. Yoshida turned 25 in August. The Yankees rotation currently consists of Cole (33), Rodon (31), Cortes (29), King (28) and Schmidt (28). Cortes and King are now into their arbitration years. While the Yankees have some depth coming up in the high minors, only Drew Thorpe inspires a lot of confidence as a future top-3 starter. Yoshida will still be in his prime when all of these guys either leave via free agency or enter their decline years.


There has been a lot of dialogue this year about how the Yankees could have had Bryce Harper, but declined to sign him because they already had Judge and Stanton at RF/DH. Even with his injuries, Harper would have been a huge game changer on the Yankees over the last few years.


I think the lesson we should learn from that decision is pretty simple: young superstar free agents don’t come along that often. Even if they don’t fill a huge need right now, they will in the future. I’d be against the Yankees signing Sonny Gray or Blake Snell or another veteran starting pitcher over hitters, but not Yamamoto.


There might be some ancillary benefits as well. The Yankees could consider trading surplus pitching if they have a little more depth. I’d have a hard time seeing San Diego accepting a Juan Soto trade that doesn’t involve some MLB-ready starters, for example. The other ancillary benefit is a little darker: Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are huge question marks for 2024. If they are bad again, the Yankees 2024 rotation might look like the 2025 rotation. Not good.


Sign the young ace. Figure the rest out later.

10 Comments


jjw49
Nov 01, 2023

Stanton and Rodon contracts are killing us.... Hal is gonna have to eat a huge " S**t Sandwich to unload these two and I don't see it happening.

Like

etbkarate
Nov 01, 2023

My problems with him. They pitch once a week, not every 5th day, ball is actually smaller and lighter, competition isn't as good as mlb hitters. Add all that, and factor in the $ he will want, and you have a huge risk. IMO, a roll of the dice.

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etbkarate
Nov 02, 2023
Replying to

True. Im just cautious of overseas pitchers. If it wasn't huge bucks, fine. But word is he wants mega contract.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Nov 01, 2023

For comparison, how do Yamamoto's stats compare to Irabu and Igawa before they came to the US?

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fuster
Nov 01, 2023

Yamamoto is well worth the getting.

the Yankees do a good job of turning out middle-of-the-order starters, but front-end guys are rare and valuable and I like the idea of adding one every season, should there be one to add.


~~~~~

the Yankees certainly need to add offense, but not necessarily at third base.

not necessarily for 2024. LeMahieu should be able to provide enough


more urgent to add offense in the outfield

and at DH

Like

Alan B.
Alan B.
Nov 01, 2023

Can we find a way to get rid of Rondon after 2024? Also, if they sign him, will Cashmsn use his plethora of SP prospects to get Soto, or, alternatively, maybe trade Schmidt for Kepler for 2024 then use this glut of now-proven AAA guys to get themselves a closer after 2024?

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fuster
Nov 01, 2023
Replying to

if he's only averaged 108 innings


then we should be getting 150 innings in 2024

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