After missing out on Shohei Ohtani, the SF Giants are still in the market for a top free agent. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Giants reportedly met with star NPB pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Sunday.
SF Giants reportedly met with highly-touted NPB pitcher on Sunday
As Olney notes, Yamamoto has a lot of teams bidding for his services. This list includes big-market clubs like the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even some of the mid-market teams are in the mix as well.
Given that Ohtani just landed a 10-year, $700 million pact, it is fair to say that Yamamoto could be a direct beneficiary of this. The right-handed hurler was projected to receive nine years and $225 million according to MLB Trade Rumors. That was earlier this offseason, but given the new precedent of the Ohtani deal and the number of teams involved, Yamamoto could easily surpass that early projection.
The Orix Buffaloes posted the 25-year-old pitcher in November, starting his 45-day negotiating window. He is expected to sign well before that window closes. The team that ends up landing him will owe the Buffaloes a substantial posting fee.
The righty pitcher is coming off of an excellent 2023 campaign in which he posted a 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and a 6.29 SO/W ratio in 24 starts for the Buffaloes. Across seven NPB seasons, he has tallied a stellar 1.72 ERA while averaging 25 starts per season over the past three years, which is the equivalent of a full workload in the NPB.
The Giants scouted Yamamoto heavily even before he was posted. Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi halted his managerial search to watch one of his starts in person.
And, if the Giants are debating as to whether they should sign Yamamoto or Blake Snell, we make a case that it clearly should be the former. It will not come easy and it will take the front office well out of its comfort zone.
The Giants have an extremely poor track record of landing the top free agents. That will change someday. The Giants hope sooner rather than later. However, if Yamamoto is the guy that they want to build around and prove that San Francisco is a desirable destination for free agents, then they need to put out an offer that cannot be matched. If they approach free agency as they have, meaning rationally, then they will continue to miss out on some of the best names in baseball.