If the SF Giants do eventually land star NPB pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, they will be in the unusual position of beating out a very heavy market. Yamamoto's posting window opened on Tuesday and his agent, Joel Wolfe, has indicated that between 11 - 14 teams have already expressed interest in his client.
No shortage of interested suitors for SF Giants top starting pitching target
Is this level of activity normal? Wolfe said that he has never seen this type of interest in a player at the beginning of the free agency process. The Orix Buffaloes of the NPB officially posted the 25-year-old pitcher on Tuesday, kicking off a 45-day window in which he can negotiate with teams.
That said, there is an expectation that his contract situation will be resolved by the end of the Winter Meetings at the start of December. Wolfe has indicated that Yamamoto has no geographical preference, which does impact the Giants a bit. At one point, it was believed that he preferred to play on the West Coast, but that does not appear to be the case.
On a different note, it has been suggested that the right-handed hurler would prefer a destination that has other Japanese teammates on the roster according to a recent report. Players coming from the Pacific Rim have shown an inclination to play where there is little to no presence from that geographic area. Yamamoto believes that there is a benefit to joining a team with Japanese players.
If true, this would hurt the Giants' chances as they do not have any former NPB players on the 40-man roster, so there would be no sense of familiarity for Yamamoto. While that may not be the biggest factor in his decision, it is still notable.
Yamamoto is coming off of an excellent 2023 campaign with the Buffaloes in which he tallied a 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and a 6.04 SO/W ratio across 23 starts. In seven seasons, the star pitcher has posted a 1.72 ERA, so he has really dominated the competition.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Yamamoto is expected to score a nine-year, $225 million pact in free agency. The Giants have heavily scouted him with Farhan Zaidi halting his managerial search to attend one of Yamamoto's more recent starts. They expect to be in the mix, but so do a lot of other teams. It is going to be a tough market for them to win the bidding in what will become one of the more unique free-agent cases in recent memory.