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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Updated Perspectives: YAMAMOTO SAYS NO TO NYY

by Paul Semendinger

December 22, 2023

***

YOSHINOBU YAMAMOTO IS GOING TO THE DODGERS...


I have a lot of thoughts, please bear with me as I get them all posted...


1.) I have been very positive about the Yankees' off-season thus far. The Juan Soto trade was FANTASTIC! I do believe the Yankees are playing to win, and that pleases me, but...


2.) The Yankees just LOST the biggest sweepstakes of the off-season.


3.) The other day I opined that the Yankees should have set a deadline for Yoshinobu Yamamoto to sign with them so they would be in front of the situation if they failed to land him and they had to revert to their back-up plans. Well... they didn't set a deadline and now they have to fall back to their next plans. Wouldn't it have been better if the Yankees had pivoted a few weeks ago and were ahead of the market - and didn't spent a month in limbo waiting for a player who said "NO!" anyway? Now the Yankees have to play catch-up, but a brand new market for pitching (and player acquisition) has been set. The Yankees let the player and now the market dictate their off-season. Smart clubs work to set the market. It's always better to be proactive. All too often, the Yankees are reactive. Now they have to react after losing the biggest stakes of the off-season.


4.) A team like the Yankees, one of the sport's powerhouses (though I believe the Dodgers have shown over the last many years that they are baseball's biggest power broker) cannot and should not ever negotiate from weakness. Ever. This idea that the player would walk away because the Yankees would set a deadline at the start of a negotiation is preposterous. For anyone who claims that, please let me know of the situations when you were hired. Did the company, firm, or whatever, tell you, "Let us know if you're going to take the job whenever you feel like it?" or did they give a date they'd have to know your intentions by? When you have hired people (if you have) do you give them an open window for weeks on end? ("Just let us know. The job will be waiting for you. We're in no rush.") (I have to say that if a company said that to me, leave a door wide open for me to make up my mind over weeks and weeks, in most situations, I'd have to conclude that they weren't all that serious. I'd like my employer to have a sense of urgency (to a point).) In the end, waiting didn't help the Yankees. It only hurt them. They didn't get the player. They wasted a month waiting on that player. Their fans are very disappointed. And they are back to Square One with fewer days to operate and now within a market that has been re-set and is going to be much more expensive.


5.) I have said, a lot, that the Yankees' brand has taken a hit, big time, these last many years. The Yankees are not seen as winners. This is because it's been a long time since the Yankees were winners. And they just lost again. Today, the Yankees are just another team. Players, fans, the sports industry, etc... do not see the Yankees as the greatest team. They're the team with the greatest history, sure, but Ruth, Gehrig, Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, and the rest - and yes, that includes Jeter and Rivera and Posada and Pettitte are not relevant today. That history has no impact on a player's decision to come to New York because they are all, today, ancient history. They are all yesterday's news. They are, in a very real sense, last century's news. This is what the Yankees have created by not winning since 2009 and by not being serious about winning for much of the last five plus years, and longer.


6.) A player given the choice between the Dodgers and the Yankees, I think, is going to choose the Dodgers every time. The Dodgers are baseball's biggest power player. They simply are. That can't be argued. It was once the Yankees, but it's not the Yankees any longer. The Yankees gave that status away. The Dodgers play bigger. They are more exciting. They have acquired the bigger player year-after-year, and they win more. To all our readers, taking your fandom away, if playing baseball was your profession where would you play? The answer for me is simple. It's the Dodgers. The Yankees, with their poor decision making all of these last many years, have given up their status as baseball's most exciting and most dynamic team.


7.)  I'm sorry, I have to make the point because it is relevant and it does matter. Months ago, I wrote that Brian Cashman's comments about Giancarlo Stanton would be problematic. Stanton's agent seemed outraged. Stanton's agent said, out loud, what so many have thought might be true - that playing for the Yankees isn't a dream. And, of course, Stanton's agent is also Yamamoto's agent...


We have seen this time and again with the way the Yankees treat their biggest stars, and have continually under Brian Cashman's tenure. This includes the way Aaron Judge's contract was handled, so in this regard, we're not talking ancient history. I believe that Yamamoto took that into consideration when making his decision. I'm sure the agent's critique of the Yankees played a role in his client's decision. It absolutely did. 100%. Again, looking at the way so many of the Yankees' stars' negotiations have gone, and the way they've been handled by the team, and the lack of respect, would the Yankees be your number one choice to play for? (Is it crazy for me to suggest that the agent just got the last laugh? For all of those who said he would cost his client money by not going with the Yankees... I guess he didn't. He also, purposefully or not, made the Yankees look bad.)


8.) The Yankees better have some good back-up plans. This all reflects poorly on the franchise. It does, absolutely. Being stood-up at the alter hurts. It has to. I hope that the Yankees management and owner feel some embarrassment. Big decisions like this don't happen in isolation. All of the factors I shared above matter. They do. No one can honestly argue otherwise. What the Yankees need to do now is pivot. They need to get pitching. I still think they need a plan to keep Aaron Judge out of centerfield. They Yankees need a third baseman. The Yankees need to now bring some energy again. They don't need a high powered firm to come in and tell them all of what I just wrote. (I just did it for them for free.) If the Yankees don't understand all of this, that's part of their problem. The Yankees have lost their market status as baseball's most prestigious team. At the same time, the whole market just got a lot more expensive. There is now a lot of work to be done. I hope the Yankees are up to the task.


UPDATE -


The Yankees were unwilling to go the extra mile, it seems.


Again, they played big enough to play, but small enough to lose. Curry says that the Yankees went to, "the $300M range." To mean that means they went "short of $300M."


Either:


(A) The Yankees were unwilling to pay what the market determined he was worth (two teams were willing to go that high) OR


(B) The Yankees made an offer to try to make themselves look good ("Hey, we tried!") but one they knew Yamamoto would turn down.


If it's B, that makes no sense to me. Losers make excuses. It would make no sense to try that approach. We've heard that a lot from the Yankees in recent years. "The market was too rich," "They wanted too much from us..." etc... This would be an especially foolish approach to take after getting the fans' hopes for signing Yamamoto as well. The fans won't be placated by "We tried."


As such, I think it's A. The Yanks weren't willing to go all in. They were bested by the Dodgers. This makes me think, for the first time this off-season, that the Yankees are not "all-in." This looks like the Yankees are frightened by dollars (even though they're the most valuable franchise in the game - and worth BILLIONS more than the Dodgers (the next most valuable franchise)). This all concerns me about the Yankees' willingness to make the big and necessary deals to win in 2024. We might be seeing more of the same that we've seen for many years - a franchise unwilling to do what they need to do to win. They dug a deep hole. It's going to cost a ton to get out of it.


If this doomsday scenario is true, I don't see Soto resigning at the end of the year. I also see Cole opting out (he might anyway), but without Yamamoto, that prospect becomes more likely - and it'll cost the Yankees another year to keep him. But, if they're not all-in, why would they extend Cole? Why would they sign Soto?


The Yankees let the market beat them (again). It's a bad look. Very bad. Again, the hope is that they have a back-up plan ready to go. I'm less confident now that they have the guts and willingness to make this off-season what it needs to be. This is the critical year... and now, for the first time, we're seeing the team lose because they came up short.


"The Dodgers offered my client $325..."

"We'll stay in the $300 range. How's $285?"

"He's going to the Dodgers..."


As I stated above, this is a big reason why the Yankees are not the team that players flock to. They used to be. The Yankees used to represent winning.


They do not any longer.


And they just lost again - because, it seems, they weren't willing to go to distance.

***

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43 Comments


Mike Whiteman
Dec 22, 2023

I'm not quite sure I'm ready to say the Yanks wouldn't go far enough for Yamamoto. Is there reliable reporting that says that he would have signed with the Yanks for a higher amount? For all the effort Yanks put into this, I'd be surprised if they would be knowingly outspent. I do think it's sobering that the Yanks made a full-court press for a player they wanted and didn't get him. When did that last happen? While there seems to be sentiment that he was leaning towards the Dodgers all the way, let's hope the Yanks see this as sobering as well and come out swinging.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

Of course. Always.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Dec 22, 2023

Imagining that a deadline would have created a different outcome borders on the absurd. Much more likely is that Yamamoto wants to be in LA (otherwise why not the Mets?), where he can have Ohtani as a teammate (another Japanese player who has no desire to be on the East Coast). It boggles my mind, but some people would much rather live in LA than in NYC.


As for the Yankee offer, note that YY signed for $325 million. I can see the Yankees making a decision not to pay more for a guy who hasn't thrown a MLB pitch than the reigning Cy Young winner. Cole is a guy who gets annoyed and distracted by little things; it's ea…


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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Dec 23, 2023
Replying to

With the Mets and, as you say, the Angels in, YY didn't need the Yankees to drive up the price.


As for "what did not having a deadline get them," you are confusing ex ante and ex post perspectives. The question is whether at the time a given course of action was predictably better or worse. A deadline is a predictably worse strategy here. You're moving the goal posts by saying the the ultimate result was bad, so a deadline could not have hurt. On that theory, neither would punching Yamamoto's agent in the nose have made it less likely he would sign with the Yankees, simply because he didn't sign without the nose punch. The question is wha…

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 22, 2023

I will dive more into this on the Dr. Sem Yankees Show (posted here tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. or watch live on Roku, facebook, Youtube, etc... at NESSP at 7:00 a.m tomorrow.)

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jjw49
Dec 22, 2023

I politely disagree about the deadline .... especially Yankees insisting on one in the negotiations.... MLB set the deadline 60 days. As you say in the real world it is a much shorter time and in baseball not so. The Yankees and Cashman have had all this time to craft contingency plans after Yamamoto signed elsewhere. Ohtani signed first, then the Soto trade and now all the rest and I don't see any disadvantages because of this. Reality for Yankee fans, the center of the baseball world has shifted West to LA for the time being. Personally I thought Yamamoto would sign with SF and after Cashman trashing Stanton, well the PR department has been working overtime. I believe the Yankees…

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jjw49
Dec 22, 2023
Replying to

😀😀😀

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Frank Graziadei
Frank Graziadei
Dec 22, 2023

Hal does not want to have a 300 Million dollar salary. There is an old saying about fooling me once and fooling me twice. The Yankees are beyond twice. They did NOT offfer a competitive amount.. Either you are all in or not. They knew that the market was 325 for 12. Does anyone really believe that those figures were offered by BOTH the Mets and Dodgers as a coincidence?. Each team had an opportunity to match or beat the best offer. The Yankees choose to offer in the 300 range. Not the top dollar amount. Please! Now their plan B as I have predicted will be to sign Montas. Period. They will now say that they are competitive (meanin…

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