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Yankees Enter Race for Yamamoto, Adding to Mets’ Competition

Is the highest bid the only factor that will impact Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s decision in free agency, or will other attributes influence his choices?

Some speculated that when he faced being posted by the Orix Buffaloes recently, the prominent right-hander Yamamoto will be mostly swayed by the most lucrative contract, placing the Mets in a strong position to sign him. However, as Yamamoto’s free agent journey continues in Southern California, meeting with numerous teams, the dynamics have evolved since last month.

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The recent decision by Ohtani to sign a contract with the Dodgers has sparked thoughts among industry insiders about whether Yamamoto might make a choice to partner with the multi-talented star. This could result in forfeiting a higher bid from Mets owner, Steve Cohen.

Ohtani, being the most accomplished Japanese player to grace a major league uniform, just might be persuasive enough to get Yamamoto to form a precedent-setting duo from their home country with the Dodgers.

Hence, the Mets, along with the entirety of baseball, are eagerly awaiting Yamamoto’s decision regarding his free agency. Over the weekend, an impressive 10-year contract worth $700 million was signed by Ohtani, where he agreed to defer all but $2 million annually. Such strategic maneuvering allows the Dodgers additional financial leeway for future significant expenditures.

Adding to the stiff competition for the Mets comes with the Yankees’ involvement. No other MLB team has such extensive and widespread recognition on an international scale. This potential association could shift the balance if the 25-year-old Yamamoto places high emphasis on recognition, which could see him sporting the pinstripes in the coming season.

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Per industry insiders, it is uncertain whether the team management will get another opportunity to interact with Yamamoto after his interaction with Cohen and team president David Stearns in Japan a fortnight ago. Yamamoto has recently set foot on the U.S. soil and had a meeting with Yankees officials in Southern California on Monday, just a day following his reported meeting with the Giants.

It’s public knowledge that the Red Sox are potential suitors, meanwhile the Dodgers are jostling for position too. Yet, there could be additional teams stepping forward. Should the Mets unsuccessful in recruiting Yamamoto, Stearns has hinted that alternates are being considered.

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A diverse range of talented free-agent starting pitchers, such as Blake Snell, the winner of NL Cy Young award, Jordan Montgomery, and another talented Japanese left-hander Shota Imanaga, are in line following Yamamoto. The recent agreement between the Royals and Seth Lugo, transitioning from the relief pitcher role to the starting rotation, has limited the options for a mid-rotation candidate.

Lugo’s agreement with the Royals for a three-year contract, valued at $45 million, was finalized on Tuesday. This opportunity was also eyed by the Mets, who demonstrated interest in Lugo towards the later stages. Yet again, Lugo had migrated from relief to starter after signing with the Padres last season.

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