Now that Shohei Ohtani is officially a Dodger and we are past the long nightmare that was not knowing the name of his dog, the biggest domino that has yet to fall in the free agent market is Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto is the rare case of a young pitcher (he is just 25 years old) with fantastic stuff and a track record of performing (three time Pacific League MVP, three time Japanese Triple Crown winner) actually hitting the free agent market.
Sure, the track record of Japanese pitchers coming over to MLB hasn't always been the best, but the success rate has gone up in recent years and there is no denying that Yamamoto's stuff certainly passes the eye test. All of that adds up to league-wide interest in him to the point where it is now thought that he could get offers in the realm of $300 million which is pretty silly.
Yamamoto does not appear to be in much of a hurry to make a decision
Until Yamamoto signs, it is likely that the starting pitching market is going to be in stasis as the big spenders hold off on signing guys like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery until he is officially off the market. The initial thought was that he was likely to make a decision by Christmas, but it now looking like it could take a bit longer than that.
The good news is that if Klapisch's report is true, the meat of MLB free agency will almost assuredly get pushed well into January and will remain interesting for longer. The bad news is, well, the meat of MLB free agency will get pushed well into January and everyone is going to be doing a lot of waiting in the meantime with the occasional minor signing to hold us over.
To get a better sense of where Yamamoto's market stands right now, let's take a look at the main contenders for Yoshinobu's services.
The Red Sox may be behind the New York teams in the Yamamoto Derby
There is no denying that the Red Sox could use Yamamoto in their rotation. Aside from the fact that every team in the league could use an arm of his caliber, Boston's rotation was a mess in 2023 and they lost one of the best performing arms they had in James Paxton to free agency. So far, Boston hasn't don't anything to address their most glaring weakness this offseason.
Given that, the Red Sox have been very aggressive in trying to convince Yamamoto to sign with them. They have already had one meeting with them and appear to be poised to offer him a very healthy nine figure guarantee, but the sense right now is that Boston is behind both the Mets and Yankees when it comes to convincing him to sign. If they can get a second meeting with him, all of that could obviously change especially if Boston is very aggressive with their contract offer.