Boston Red Sox

Report: Yoshinobu Yamamoto a ‘top priority' for Red Sox in free agency

The Japanese ace would be a great fit in Boston.

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The Boston Red Sox may lose out on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, but they're apparently focused on another Japanese star.

Free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto is "one of the Red Sox' top priorities" at this week's MLB Winter Meetings, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Tuesday.

Yamamoto has been one of the best pitchers in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league over the past several seasons, winning three consecutive pitching Triple Crowns and three consecutive Pacific League MVP awards with the Orix Buffaloes. The 25-year-old was posted by Orix on Nov. 20 and has until Jan. 4 to agree to terms with an MLB team.

The Red Sox make sense as a Yamamoto suitor for several reasons: They desperately need an ace atop their rotation after their starters ranked 22nd in ERA last season, and new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow -- a former MLB pitcher -- has emphasized that pitching will be a priority this winter. Yamamoto also has a connection with current Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who spent six years as Yamamoto's teammate on the Buffaloes.

Yamamoto reportedly has plenty of suitors in free agency, including deep-pocketed teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants. But it appears Breslow and the Red Sox believe they're firmly in the mix as well.

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