Right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto reportedly met with a contingent of Mets officials including owner Steve Cohen, president of baseball operations David Stearns, manager Carlos Mendoza, and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner at Cohen’s home Saturday night, according to a report from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It’s the second known meeting between the Mets and Yamamoto this offseason following Cohen’s trip to Japan earlier this month. SNY’s Andy Martino reports that Yamamoto will also hold a second meeting with the Yankees while he’s in New York.
Yamamoto, 25, is widely regarded as the top starting pitcher on the free agent market this offseason. His market has begun to heat up in recent weeks, with a report earlier this month indicating that seven top suitors had emerged in the Yamamoto sweepstakes. Subsequent reports have indicated that each of the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, Blue Jays, and Phillies have met with Yamamoto, leaving that group as the likely finalists for the youngster’s services. While Martino reports that discussions between the Mets and Yamamoto have not yet reached the stage of a formal offer, Sherman indicates that the bidding process between interested clubs is expected to “intensify” this coming week, with a resolution expected before the end of the calendar year. That’s hardly a surprise, as Yamamoto’s posting window expires on January 4.
With so many big market teams involved in the bidding process, rumors have swirled that Yamamoto’s final price tag could exceed $300MM. Though that hefty sum could factor in the posting fee owed to the Orix Buffaloes as compensation for Yamamoto’s services, it would nonetheless be an astounding contract for the right-hander. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole’s $324MM pact currently standing as the only contract (except that of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani) among starting pitchers to reach the $300MM threshold. That Yamamoto could even approach that stratosphere without having even thrown a pitch in the majors is a testament to his unique combination of youth and immense talent. Across seven seasons with the Buffaloes, Yamamoto has never posted an ERA above the 2.35 figure of his rookie season and has posted sub-2.00 ERAs in four of his last five seasons, including a microscopic 1.16 ERA in 171 frames this past season.