Yamamoto meets with the Dodgers in the presence of Ohtani: Do the Yankees still have a chance?

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Semifinal - South Korea v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 4, 2021. Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Japan in actio
Amanda Paula
Wednesday December 13, 2023

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If earlier reports suggested that the New York Yankees would have to face competition from the Red Sox to sign Yoshibonu Yamamoto, it now appears they have another top contender in the mix, with the help of Ohtani. According to the latest reports, Yamamoto has had a meeting with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it could potentially end in a disappointing outcome for those who had dreamed of a happy ending for the Yankees.

Do the Yankees still have the chance?

Yamamoto is on the radar of the Yankees

As stated by the Athletics, the Los Angeles Dodgers orchestrated a star-studded presentation to court the coveted Japanese free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, leveraging the presence of baseball luminaries Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman. This high-profile trio, along with other notable figures, aimed to entice the sought-after right-hander during a meeting at Dodger Stadium, as reported by sources familiar with the proceedings.

The Dodgers’ pitch to Yamamoto was marked by a visually impactful entrance to the ballpark. As the free agent arrived, video displays showcased his name and likeness donned in a Dodgers uniform on the scoreboard. Yamamoto, a highly sought-after talent in the baseball world, has attracted interest from several teams, including the Mets, Yankees, Giants, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. For this crucial pitch, the Dodgers strategically deployed star power to make a compelling case for Yamamoto to join their ranks.

Mookie Betts, a player Yamamoto reportedly admires, was present at the meeting, along with Freddie Freeman, the recent MVP addition to the team. The Dodgers also featured Will Smith, a potential future teammate and catcher. However, the most significant inclusion was Shohei Ohtani, the newest Dodger, who had recently signed a groundbreaking 10-year, $700 million deal. Ohtani, who had experienced a similar reception just weeks ago, was now on the other side, contributing to the Dodgers’ efforts to bolster their roster.

Ohtani’s mega-deal, characterized by a unique salary deferral structure, played a strategic role in the recruitment process. The contract, deferring 97 percent of Ohtani’s salary until the end of the term, was designed to enable ongoing spending on talent acquisition. This financial maneuver was precisely intended for situations like the pursuit of Yamamoto.

The Dodgers, having already committed substantial funds with nearly $718 million in guaranteed salaries for the winter, remained competitive in the race for Yamamoto. Despite the record $46 million annual luxury tax figure resulting from Ohtani’s deferral-heavy contract, the Dodgers positioned themselves below the first threshold for penalties.

Given the financial flexibility provided by Ohtani’s contract structure, the Dodgers were well-equipped to absorb the potential posting fee accompanying a substantial contract for Yamamoto. Reports suggested that the posting fee for a hypothetical $300 million contract would align closely with the annual deferral payments for Ohtani, creating a financially feasible scenario for the Dodgers.

Additionally, sources hinted at the Dodgers’ involvement in trade negotiations with the Tampa Bay Rays, aiming to acquire right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot. However, as of the latest information, no deal had been finalized.

Despite already securing an impressive trio of talents, including Ohtani, the Dodgers demonstrated an unwavering commitment to further enhancing their roster, both in the pursuit of Yamamoto and in active trade discussions. The team’s aggressive approach signaled a determination to maintain its status at the forefront of the baseball market.

Fans react to the presence of Ohtani during the meeting between Dodgers and Yamamoto

Yamamoto is on the radar of the Yankees

Yankees enthusiasts, seeking a silver lining amid Yamamoto’s contractual uncertainty, are now disheartened by the looming presence of Ohtani. This development underscores the Dodgers’ commanding influence, possessing the pivotal card in securing Yamamoto’s services.

Consequently, reactions from the Yankees faithful diverge significantly from the optimism of the past week. Some bemoan the perceived tarnishing of baseball, attributing Yamamoto’s potential move to the formidable Dodgers.

Pessimistic voices prematurely declare him a Dodgers player, while others point fingers at Cashman for losing a second Japanese star consecutively, recalling the prior loss of Ohtani to the very same team.

The cloud of uncertainty surrounding Yamamoto’s potential move to the Yankees has cast a palpable shadow of unease and discontent among loyal fans, highlighting the unpredictable nature of the baseball off-season.

And what do you think? Is Yamamoto already a Dodgers player, or do we still have the hope of seeing him donning the Yankees’ iconic jersey in 2024? Leave your comment below.

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