Phillies officials are meeting with right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto this afternoon, tweets John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Philadelphia joins the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox among the teams that has met or is scheduled to chat with the Japanese star.
Yamamoto’s camp has made the rounds this week. The 25-year-old has gotten attention from the majority of large-market franchises, particularly those on the coasts. Last week, Will Sammon of the Athletic suggested that seven teams had emerged as strong suitors for the 5’10” pitcher. With seven clubs known to have meetings scheduled with Yamamoto, it’s possible the field is essentially finalized. In a full column, Jon Heyman of the New York Post writes that there’s no indication the Cubs or Cardinals are planning to meet with Yamamoto.
Of the group that seems to remain in the mix, Philadelphia might have the longest odds. The Phils already made one major rotation splash this winter, retaining Aaron Nola on a seven-year, $172MM pact. A starting five of Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sánchez is already strong. The Phils could certainly bump Sánchez back into relief to make way for Yamamoto, who is regarded as a likely top-of-the-rotation arm in the majors. Yet it’s possible teams like the Dodgers, Mets or Yankees will feel greater pressure to dish out a megadeal for rotation help.
Yamamoto is coming off a 1.21 ERA in 164 innings, arguably the best performance of an exceptional career in Japan. He has been named NPB’s best pitcher in each of the past three seasons. MLBTR predicted a nine-year, $225MM guarantee at the start of the offseason. In recent weeks, there’s been increasing speculation that a deal could approach or exceed $300MM. The signing team would owe a posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes on top of the guarantee to Yamamoto.
Roster Resource projects the Phillies payroll around $237MM for the upcoming season. That’s a little shy of the $243MM range that they carried to start this year. The Phils have roughly $252MM in luxury tax calculations, which puts them into the first tier of penalization and not far off the $257MM second threshold.