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New York Mets reportedly very interested in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, scouting Japanese pitcher heavily

Heading into the New York Mets game today, the club is far lower in the MLB standings than it expected to be this season. However, even after being aggressive sellers at the trade deadline, it appears MLB free agency could offer significant help to the Mets in 2024 and beyond.

While Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is going to be the best player available this winter, there’s a lot of other talent poised to hit the open market. One player everyone around the league are focused on is Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto stats (2023): 1.48 ERA, 125 strikeouts, 9.2 K/9, 6.5 H/9 and a 0.85 WHIP in 122 innings pitched

Yamamoto, age 24, is the best pitcher in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Across seven seasons in the NPB, Yamamoto has allowed just a 1.90 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and 871 strikeouts in 848 innings pitched.

The 5-foot-10 righty has been scouted by MLB teams for several years. Now, on the verge of turning 25 years old, Yamamoto is reportedly going to be posted for bidding by the Orix Buffaloes and an intense bidding war for his services is coming.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets will pursue Yamamoto in free agency. New York’s general manager Billy Epler reportedly scouted Yamamoto first-hand at the World Baseball Classic and then went to Japan this year to watch him pitch again.

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Yamamoto is arguably the best pitcher outside of the United States right now. Turning 25 years old on Aug. 17, the young righty has been outright dominant over the past three seasons with the Buffaloes.

He is the reigning back-to-back winner of the Pacific League MVP and the Pacific League Golden Glove Award. He’s also a three-time ERA champion and twice won the Japanese Triple Crown (2021-’22) and the Eiki Sawamura Award.

From the Mets’ perspective, Yamamoto fits perfectly into their timeline to return to contention in 2025-’26. He would be establishing himself as a front-line starter for New York as its top prospects are either establishing themselves in the majors or making their MLB debuts at Citi Field.

Ultimately, after clearing significant payroll this summer, it seems evident Mets’ owner Steve Cohen is ready to spend again this winter. However, the Mets’ spending in 2024 and beyond will be focused on players entering their prime.

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