While it is true that some star players from Japan prefer to join a team that does not already have a Japanese player, this would not be an issue for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and the Mets, according to people with direct knowledge of the dynamic.
Kodai Senga has made clear to the Mets that he wants Yamamoto as a teammate. That satisfies the latter’s need to feel welcome and helps the Mets’ chances of landing him.
The Mets are very interested in Yamamoto — who, according to league sources, will be posted by his team, the Orix Buffaloes, “any day,” but will face stiff competition.
Yamamoto is intrigued by the prestige and iconography of the Yankees, according to league sources, making that team a very strong contender for his services. And, of course, is coveted by many other MLB teams.
Boston is another big market possibility, in part because of Yamamoto’s friendship with Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida. New Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow was also said to be highly regarded by Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki when Breslow worked in the Chicago front office.
In other words, while Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner are for the first time interested in the same star free agent, this is far from a two-team race.
Speaking of the Yankees, a person close to Yamamoto said that the pitcher was not even aware of the recent dustup between GM Brian Cashman and agent Joel Wolfe, who represents Yamamoto.
After Cashman called Giancarlo Stanton “injury prone” at the GM Meetings last week on injury history, Wolfe told The Athletic, “I think it’s a good reminder for all free agents considering signing in New York, both foreign and domestic, that to play for this team you’ve got to be made of Teflon, both mentally and physically because you can never let your guard down — even in the offseason.”
But while Cashman’s comment ruffled Stanton, it did not impact the longstanding relationship between the GM and Wolfe, who also represents Yamamoto. Within the industry, both are among the most respected at their jobs and continue to speak about a variety of clients.