The Yankees picked up one big piece late Wednesday night by acquiring Juan Soto from the Padres. Now, they’ll turn their focus to ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to finish off a clean sweep of the two biggest names on the market outside Shohei Ohtani.
The Mets, however, are going to have something to say about that.
Yamamoto’s future home is likely going to come down to the New York clubs, both of whom are desperate for starting pitching. The Mets need an ace to pair with Kodai Senga while the Yankees could nab a 1A arm to slot under reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole.
He’s already met with the Mets. Owner Steve Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns flew to Japan last week to hold court with Yamamoto. The Yankees have a meeting with him set up in New York on Monday and it remains to be seen if there could be follow-up contact with the Queens club while he’s in town.
This could ultimately lead to the first real bidding war between the New York clubs ever.
The Yankees boast the pedigree, mystique, and brand that any international talent would covet. The Bronx Bombers are synonymous with Major League Baseball outside North America, and understandably so. Picking up Soto certainly won’t hurt their chances, either. While they missed the postseason in 2023, they are reloading. Adding Yamamoto to a re-juiced core that features Aaron Judge and Soto in the No. 2 and 3 spots of the lineup makes them contenders.
But the Mets are no slouches in these sweepstakes. Cohen has the money to outbid anyone and Cashman already knows that, saying earlier this week that, “I don’t think anyone can compete with Steve Cohen.” That immediately gives them the upper hand should a bidding war commence.
Yamamoto becomes their clear ace should he decide on Queens, creating a fearsome 1-2 punch with his compatriot in Senga, who finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2023. Seeing how Senga adjusted so well to life in the majors and North America should not hurt their pitch, either.