The Yankees are among the teams interested in star NPB pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, as noted by Newsday’s Erik Boland. Boland added that the club’s director of pro scouting Matt Daley is currently in Japan and another top scout visited to watch Yamamoto pitch earlier in the year. Jon Heyman of the New York Post also notes the Yankees interest, listing them among ten teams that scouted Yamamoto’s most recent start. That list of teams includes the club’s crosstown rival Mets as well as their division rival Red Sox.
Yamamoto, who claimed the #3 spot on MLBTR’s newest edition of the 2023-24 Free Agent Power Rankings, sports a sensational 1.34 ERA in 127 innings of work with the Orix Buffaloes this year, his age-24 season. That level of excellence extends all the way back to 2021; in 514 2/3 innings of work the past three seasons, Yamamoto’s ERA is 1.50 while he’s struck out 27.2% of batters he’s faced, walking just 5.2%. That level of dominance even eclipses that of former Yankee Masahiro Tanaka, who made two All Star appearances and posted a 3.33 ERA in ten postseason starts for the club after signing a seven-year, $155MM deal with New York prior to the 2014 season.
It’s no wonder the Yankees would have interest in Yamamoto; while they’ve gotten another excellent season out of ace Gerrit Cole, the club’s other starters have largely disappointed. Lefties Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes, nominally the club’s #2 and #3 starters, have been limited to just 7 and 12 starts respectively this season thanks to injuries and struggled badly. A Yamamoto signing would certainly give the Yankees a quality arm to pair with Cole at the top of their rotation while simultaneously helping to alleviate pressure not only on Rodon and Cortes, but also on youngsters like Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez entering 2024.
More from around the AL East…
- Orioles outfield prospect Heston Kjerstad is on the club’s radar for a possible call-up option when rosters expand on September 1, as GM Mike Elias told reporters (including BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Rich Dubroff). The 2nd overall pick in the 2020 draft, Kjerstad didn’t make his MiLB debut until last June thanks to a myocarditis diagnosis but has done nothing but hit since then. In 473 trips to the plate this season between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, the 24-year-old outfielder has slashed a sensational .308/.378/.542 with a strikeout rate just below 18%. If called up for the stretch run, Kjerstad would join an outfield that typically sports Austin Hays in left, Cedric Mullins in center, and Anthony Santander in right.
- Blue Jays reliever Erik Swanson exited today’s game against the Guardians with right mid-back discomfort, as noted by The Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath. The severity of Swanson’s injury isn’t yet known, but even a short absence for the right-hander, who sports a 3.10 ERA and a 29.4% strikeout rate in 58 innings of work this season, would be a substantial blow to Toronto’s bullpen. Of course, the club would still have right-handers Jordan Romano (2.60 ERA, 29.9% strikeout rate) and Jordan Hicks (3.83 ERA, 30.3% strikeout rate) available for the late innings even if Swanson required a trip to the injured list.