Apart from Shohei Ohtani himself, Yoshinobu Yamamoto might be the most sought-after free agent on the current market. Predictably, teams have been jostling behind the scenes for a chance at landing the Japanese star.
A member of NPB’s Orix Buffaloes since 2017, Yamamoto has dominated the bump in Japan. In addition to winning three MVP Awards, Yamamoto played a pivotal role in the Buffaloes’ Japan Series victory in 2022.
Despite his obvious talent, Yoshinobu Yamamoto has been tight-lipped about his eventual MLB investigation. With the MLB Winter Meetings underway in Nashville, we turned to Bard AI for some insight as to where Yamamoto might wind up.
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What AI thinks about Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s possible landing spots in MLB
The first two teams that Bard outlined for a possible Yamamoto deal was the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees, both deep-pocketed teams.
Yamamoto himself drew interest from Dodgers fans after he was spotted sitting courtside at an LA Lakers game earlier this month. With iconic starter Clayton Kershaw looking to be nearing retirement, and 2022 Cy Young finalist Julio Urias dealing with off-field issues, Yamamoto would give the Dodgers rotation a serious bump. After posting the best starter ERA in MLB in 2022, the Dodgers’ slumped to 16th in the category in 2023.
The New York Yankees are possibly the team best suited to nail down Yamamoto. Team GM Brian Cashman, a longtime fan of the 25-year old, was in Japan to see Yamamoto toss a no-hitter in September. The Yankees’ rotation faces a precarious situation with next year on the horizon, and Yamamoto would be an excellent signing.
The other two teams at the top of Bard’s list were the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants. Both cities host large Japanese populations, something that Yamamoto has indicated a preference for. Both teams have also been named as frontrunners to sign Shohei Ohtani.
The Jays’ rotation looks fairly strong, featuring 2023 AL strikeouts leader Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, and Yamamoto’s countryman Yusei Kikuchi. However, after losing third baseman Matt Chapman and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier in free agency, pursuing some bats might take precedence for the Jays.
“Yoshinobu Yamamoto threw his 2nd career no hitter for the Orix Buffaloes. Yamamoto is expected to be a Mets target this offseason” – Amazin’ Army
The AI tool also mentioned the Texas Rangers, Mets and Cubs as potential suitors. Additionally, Bard shed light on Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s personal motives, claiming that it was likely a mixture of winning probability, comfort, and financial incentives that will draw him into the fold of one lucky team before 2024.