Top 3 Suitors for No. 1 Free Agent Pitcher Yamamoto

Whether you like Blake Snell or Yoshinobu Yamamoto as the top free agent pitcher on the market this winter, both are set to land huge contracts. 

In the case of the Japanese sensation, he's coming off a season in Japan in which he posted a 1.26 ERA, a 155:26 K-BB rate, 0.88 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in 157 innings. 

MLB teams have been scouting him for years, and at least 20 teams were actually in attendance when he tossed a no-hitter on September 9th. 

He's likely to be posted in December. And what really makes him special compared to other recent Japanese stars migrating to North America is that Yamamoto is just about to enter his prime — he's just 25. 

Let's have a look at the top three suitors. 

New York Mets

A team that offloaded significant payroll this past season with the trades of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, among others, the Mets are now focused on younger players entering their prime. Yamamoto fits perfectly into their stated timeline to return to contention in 2025. He'll be at the height of his prime at age 27 at that time, and the other top young Mets' stars like Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio and even Luisangel Acuña would have some MLB experience under their belts, and ready to produce for a winning club. 

On top of that, Yamamoto's former countrymate Kodai Senga would be his rotation-mate, making him that much more comfortable in the Big Apple.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers, of course, are the prime landing spot for the top free agent of all, Shohei Ohtani. And while they'll be focused on securing his services, going after Yamamoto as well could serve two purposes: 1) as with the Mets, making both Japanese stars comfortable having a countryman at his side for the long haul; and 2) Ohtani will not be pitching in 2024 after undergoing elbow surgery. And the Dodgers desperately need to come out of this offseason bolstering their pitching staff significantly. 

San Francisco Giants

As always, the Giants are looking for a big star, and will be making a very handsome offer. Bob Nightengale of USA Today on Sunday reported that "the Giants are putting a full-court press" on for the Japanese phenom. In 7 seasons in Japan's top league, the NPB, he has a remarkable 1.82 ERA across 900 innings, with a 0.93 WHIP. 

The Giants' rotation is also in need of a huge boost. 

This should be a fun battle to watch. Several other big market teams are expected to enter the fray as well, and Yamamoto is a cinch to land the largest contract ever for a pitcher posted by a Japanese team. The old mark is held by Masahiro Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155M contract with the Yankees in 2014.