Yoshinobu Yamamoto has officially been posted and his 45-day negotiating window with MLB clubs began on Tuesday, meaning the chase is on for the Japanese superstar ace.
While numerous big-market teams are expected to be in the hunt, the 25-year-old right-hander has dropped a first hint that could narrow down the field — and that bodes well for the Mets.
According to Yahoo! Japan, Yamamoto’s agent said he wants to play on a team that has other Japanese players — though clarifications of the translation from reporters added that he would be more open to it rather than it being a must.
The Mets boast one of the most notable Japanese pitchers in baseball in Kodai Senga — one who made the jump to North America just last winter. The 30-year-old enjoyed a brilliant rookie campaign with the Mets, going 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA, 202 strikeouts in 166.1 innings with a 1.220 WHIP. He finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and seventh on the Cy Young ballot.
Senga has already reportedly told the Mets that he wants Yamamoto as a teammate, which would create an impressive 1-2 punch in Queens with a heavy Japanese influence.
Winning the Sawamura Award three straight years — the equivalent to the Cy Young — Yamamoto had another remarkable season for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball last season. In 171.0 innings pitched, he went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA, 176 strikeouts, and possessed a 0.860 WHIP.
He’s the biggest free-agent starting-pitching target on the market this winter, which is quite a statement considering the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell, is also a free agent.