Yoshinobu debacle: A jolt to Yankees but a disaster for Mets

New York teams the Yankees and the Mets remained front runners for Yoshinobu Yamamoto but lost out to the Dodgers in the 2023 offseason.

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Until that last moment, New York teams the Yankees and the Mets remained front runners for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. While the Yankees met him twice, the Mets invited him to dinner and even matched the Dodgers’ $325 million bid. Now both teams faced a more significant setback with the absence of Yamamoto.

However, the Yankees are accustomed to maintaining their status quo and are likely to weather any challenges, as they often do. But the Mets were in desperate need of the Japanese ace. Despite their impressive acquisitions this offseason, the Mets don’t appear poised to become a major player anytime soon in the absence of a Yamamoto-like star.

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Yoshinobu shock: Yankees rattled but not blown up

It’s worth noting that the Bronx Bombers have already lived up to their reputation by acquiring one of the game’s premier hitters, Juan Soto, to complement another standout hitter, Aaron Judge, forming a lineup that promises both intimidation and excitement.

Furthermore, despite witnessing the departure of the latest superstar to baseball’s new superteam out West, the Yankees retain a pitching staff with a notable pedigree. There is ample reason to believe that their perceived “disastrous” 82-80 season was more of a mirage than a true reflection of their capabilities.

In 2023, key players like Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Nestor Cortes, and Carlos Rodon faced significant periods of absence. Despite the roster’s overall advanced age and a recent history of lingering injuries, indicating a potential for more time on the injured list, the team remains well-equipped for contention.

Furthermore, they have the advantage of not competing in the same league as the Dodgers, who managed to create payroll flexibility, secured two-way standout Shohei Ohtani, and outbid both New York teams for the 25-year-old right-handed pitching sensation, Yamamoto. The latter is particularly esteemed, not only for his skills but also for his age and overall popularity.

To add to the positive outlook, the other teams in the Yankees’ division are regressing. The Orioles persist in feigning financial constraints, the Rays genuinely struggle with financial limitations, the Blue Jays have already lost out on prime opportunities for left-handed power with Soto and Ohtani, and the Red Sox, despite no longer having Chaim Bloom to criticize, continue to exhibit tendencies reminiscent of a small-market team.

Yoshinobu shock: Mets plunge into full-blown disaster

Despite their impressive acquisitions this offseason, the Mets don’t appear poised to become a major player anytime soon. While they expressed the intent to be competitive, their current status positions them as a team likely to contend primarily with the Marlins and Nationals in a division structured with two tiers, where the more skilled Braves and Phillies take the forefront.

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mlb.com

The Mets made a prudent decision in altering their course by parting ways with future Hall of Famers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. However, the challenging consequence now is presenting a team that may not be appealing to top-tier free agents.

Overcoming a longstanding history of misfortune is one hurdle, but a largely unchanged roster that only managed a 75-win season poses a significant challenge when competing against the formidable Dodgers in the high-stakes arena of free agency.

While the Yankees displayed confidence in their pursuit, despite initial indications of Yamamoto’s West Coast inclination, the Mets had to acknowledge the likelihood of being outmatched in this endeavor.

The Dodgers boast year-round sunshine, ocean waves, and a superteam. Although the Mets submitted an identical $325 million bid as the Dodgers, they undoubtedly recognized the formidable winter powerhouse they were competing against.

The intention behind Yamamoto attending the Rams game with Ohtani remains uncertain, as initially reported. However, some executives currently speculate that the cancellation of their boys’ night out was a strategic move to avoid addressing Yamamoto’s potential preference for Dodger Blue during negotiations. While this could be categorized as a conspiracy theory, not all such theories turn out to be incorrect.

The next phases of Yankees vs. Mets on free-agent pitchers

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Turning our attention to the next free agent, there’s positive news as the Yankees are reportedly contemplating the return of former Yankee Jordan Montgomery or gearing up for another competitive bidding situation, this time for the left-handed Japanese star Shota Imanaga.

Exploring possibilities, the Yankees are considering Frankie Montas, who has a technical tie to the team. This provides them with several options.

Similarly, the Mets, with their evident financial strength, also have alternative choices. However, from the beginning, they appeared heavily committed to the Yamamoto long shot, which ultimately did not materialize.

They’ve reached out to every available free agent, including Montgomery and even the National League Cy Young winner, Blake Snell. To fulfill their commitment to competitiveness, they must not only continue to acquire smart depth pieces like Adrian Houser but also strengthen the top of their rotation.

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Competition for Snell is expected to be fierce, with strong interest likely from major-market teams such as the Giants, Angels, and Red Sox. However, the Mets may not have to contend with historical powerhouses like the Yankees or the ever-appealing Dodgers, who might not be actively seeking another high-priced pitcher.

Alternatively, they could explore options like Imanaga, Montgomery, Lucas Giolito, or consider a substantial trade option in Dylan Cease. Extension deals aside, options like Corbin Burnes and Shane Bieber, both longtime Brewers, appear less likely as they are rentals set to become free agents at the end of the year.

Stearns’ gradual additions may be commendable, but for the Mets to achieve their goal of reclaiming competitiveness this baseball season and making a significant impact in the upcoming free agency next winter, they must make more substantial moves.

While this situation may have been a letdown for the Yankees, it could potentially have disastrous consequences for the Mets.

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