The SF Giants have been connected to both NPB star Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Blake Snell in some way or another this offseason. If they had to choose one, the better bet would be Yamamoto.
4 reasons why the SF Giants should choose Yoshinobu Yamamoto over Blake Snell
Yamamoto and Snell are the two top pitching options remaining on the market. You could make the case that Jordan Montgomery could be in the conversation, but while he has been solid throughout his career, he does not have the same type of track record as the other two.
This is more of a thought experiment than anything else. There is no current rumors suggesting that the Giants are choosing between either Yamamoto or Snell. They have said that they want to sign a frontline starter and those are the two pitchers on the open market who fit that description.
At the end of the day, they would both be paid handsomely. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that both pitchers should land a deal in excess of $200 million. The financial commitment is significant, but if you are deciding between either pitcher, the difference in guaranteed money should not be too substantial. It is going to be a sizable investment whether you go with Yamamoto or Snell.
If all other things are equal, age would be a huge factor in favor of Yamamoto. The right-handed pitcher will enter his age-25 season in 2024, whereas it would be Snell's age-31 season. It is so tough for a team to get younger in free agency, but adding Yamamoto would make him one of the younger pitchers in the Giants' rotation. Even Logan Webb (27), Tristan Beck (27), and Keaton Winn (25) are older than the NPB star.
This means that Yamamoto likely has more peak years remaining than Snell. It also means that he could secure a longer-term deal than the two-time Cy Younger award winner. Though, Yamamoto will likely want an opt-out clause included in his contract so he can re-enter free agency for a second payday if his performance merits it.
2. No qualifying offer
Snell rejected a qualifying offer from the San Diego Padres earlier this winter. If the Giants did sign him, they would lose their second-round pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money. That is a tough pill to digest for a team whose farm system has not consistently fed the major league roster in years.
That being said, it is hard to know how much of a factor that the qualifying offer is for a player signing a deal of five years or more. If it is a shorter-term deal, that might be more important because the player's value is spread over fewer years. However, in a long-term deal, it just might be less of a factor.
In fairness, the team that eventually signs Yamamoto would owe the Orix Buffaloes a substantial posting fee. That amount will be determined by his future contract. However, the posting fee does not count against the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT).