Is Yamamoto a possibility for the Jays?
Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the consensus top pitching name in the 2024 MLB free agent class after a standout career in Japan's NPB that left some wondering if he's the best Japanese pitcher ever. On Wednesday, it was announced that Yamamoto has been posted and teams will be able to negotiate with his representatives over the next 45 days.
Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently stirred the pot on the possibility of the Blue Jays landing a top free agent pitcher which figures to include Yamamoto.
"Early this winter Blue Jays showing real interest in some big names, including top free agent pitchers per sources. Bats still Jays’ priority, but they’re keeping possibilities open. Active in trade market, too."- Ben Nicholson-Smith on X
The fit is not obviously apparent for Yamamoto on the Blue Jays. You can never have enough starting pitching, but for a team that is returning almost all of the starters that made up a stellar rotation, it would be a significant investment in a strength rather than a weakness. It can be assumed that signing Yamamoto would come with trading a starter for offensive help. That might mean departing with Alek Manoah or Yusei Kikuchi whose contract is up at the end of the 2024 season.
The contract predictions vary for Yamamoto but most seem to believe he'll wind up with more than $200M plus the posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes. It would likely be a seven-plus-year deal as Yamamoto being just 25 positions him well in a market where most free agent pitchers are 30 and up.
Yamamoto would be a landmark signing for the Blue Jays. Ross Atkins and company would need to outbid the Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, and more who all figure to be interested in Yamamoto's services. The contract would surpass the $150M that made George Springer the highest paid Blue Jay ever. Beyond the question of if it's possible, is it worth it?