Yoshinobu Yamamoto is one of the top starting pitchers available to MLB teams this offseason, and the bidding for his services will begin in short order.
Yamamoto has been posted by his Japanese team, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, with the window to sign him opening Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET and closing 45 days later on Jan. 4, 2024 at 5 p.m. ET.
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The 25-year-old right-hander went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA and 169 strikeouts over 164 innings for the Orix Buffaloes in 2023. He has dominated professional baseball in Japan for several seasons.
Will the Boston Red Sox be in the mix for Yamamoto?
Jon Heyman of the New York Post listed the Red Sox among several teams looking to acquire an elite starter this offseason.
The Red Sox have many roster weaknesses to address over the winter, but their top need is arguably an ace for the starting rotation. They simply don't have one, and it's pretty hard to be a playoff team when you lack a reliable No. 1 starter. Yamamoto is only 25, so giving him a huge contract over seven-plus seasons is not as large of a risk as it would be with a free agent who's 28, 29 or 30 years old.
Boston's starters ranked 22nd in ERA, 27th in innings pitched, 17th in WHIP, 17th in strikeouts and 19th in batting average against last season.
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The Red Sox would be wise to use outfielder Masataka Yoshida in their attempt to lure Yamamoto to Boston. The two players have a good relationship.
“We’re close to each other," Yoshida told the Boston Herald's Mac Cerullo in September. "We’ve played (together) for a long time."
If the Red Sox are unable to land Yamamoto, perhaps they would turn their attention to some of the other top starters on the market, including Blake Snell, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery, among others.