The New York Yankees are considered frontrunners for Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but he's expected to have plenty of potential suitors, including the New York Mets. Yet, the Yankees evidently feel so confident in signing Yamamoto that they kept his jersey number free for months.
"According to league sources, the Yanks have purposefully held the number 18 for Yamamoto over the past year. That is not only Yamamoto's number with the Orix Buffaloes, but is traditionally considered the "ace" number in Japan," Andy Martino wrote.
No. 18 was also the number of former Yankees Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, two Japanese MLB players Yamamoto reportedly idolized. Yamamoto is expected to take in-person meetings after the MLB Winter Meetings, with any coordinated discussions with teams until then to take place over video call.
Yamamoto's agent, Joel Wolfe, spoke recently about the sheer amount of interest the 25-year-old has received so far.
"This is by far the player with the most interested teams that I have ever seen at the beginning of free agency," Wolfe said. "It's what we call a perfect storm, where you have one of the finest young pitchers in the world who also is just 25 years old...It's generational. Something like this only happens once every 10 or 15 years."
Brian Cashman and Co. may have gotten ahead of themselves, especially given the Yankees GM's comments about Giancarlo Stanton just a few weeks ago, which Wolfe did not appreciate.
The Milwaukee Brewers haven't given fans much to enjoy of late. Craig Counsell is with the Cubs. Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Willy Adames may all be traded. Brandon Woodruff is likely to sign elsewhere.
However, a franchise-altering decision is reportedly at play, as the Brewers are closing in on a contract extension with top prospect Jackson Chourio, who has played just six games above Double-A. Chourio is one of the best prospects in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline, and is ranked second only to Jackson Holliday of the Baltimore Orioles. Per Ken Rosenthal, this extension would eliminate all service time manipulation, and potentially lead to the 19-year-old beginning the 2024 season on the MLB roster.
"If he agrees to a deal, it would remove service time as a consideration for the Brewers in their decision on when to promote him, and likely ensure his place in their Opening Day lineup," Rosenthal wrote. "But a Chourio agreement, if it is struck quickly, would enable the Brewers to show they are investing in their next wave of talent at a time when they are open to trades for right-hander Corbin Burnes, shortstop Willy Adames and closer Devin Williams."
Chourio was the youngest player to appear in a Double-A game last season, but still performed admirably, batting .280 with 22 homers and an .803 OPS. His ability to adjust is why an MLB promotion prior to Opening Day shouldn't be ruled out. If Chourio performs well in spring training, there is no motivation for the Brewers to keep him in the minor leagues.
The Toronto Blue Jays are willing to listen on most if not all of their players, as most competitive teams do. That does not mean they will pull the trigger and trade away the likes of Bo Bichette or Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Per Rosenthal, Toronto has received calls on Vladdy, who will be a free agent after the 2025 season. With extension talks on hold for now, Guerrero, Jr. will only get more expensive for the Blue Jays from here, and cheaper to acquire for rival teams. Ross Atkins is smart to listen, but ultimately would be foolish to consider most offers.
"The Blue Jays are getting calls on first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as well as Bichette, according to major-league sources who were granted anonymity in order to speak freely. However, it makes little sense for the Jays to move either star when they are under pressure to win and believed to be pursuing Shohei Ohtani," Rosenthal wrote, per The Athletic.
As for Bichette, he was linked to the Chicago Cubs as recently as last week. However, FanSided's Robert Murray explained the nature of trade calls just as Rosenthal does -- most teams will always listen. Murray also makes a compelling case as to why Bichette won't be moved.
"Bichette is among baseball's best young shortstops. He's also signed to an affordable multi-year contract that allows the Blue Jays to add high-priced pieces around him. He's a player that the Blue Jays should build around, not trade, and it seems like that's the direction they are likely headed in," Murray wrote.
It would be a shock if Toronto traded either player now, especially coming off a playoff appearance.2023-11-28T22:09:01Z dg43tfdfdgfd