HEADLINE

Yankees want Juan Soto long-term; Yamamoto next?

Field Level Media

December 07, 2023 at 6:43 pm.

In pursuit of the best players in the world, New York Yankees president Brian Cashman plans only a momentary pause to celebrate the acquisition of Juan Soto.

The Yankees completed a seven-player deal with the centerpiece headed to New York in 25-year-old Juan Soto, a three-time All-Star on a Hall of Fame track based on his epic early production at the plate.

“It’s another manifestation of the Steinbrenner legacy. George always felt that the best players in the world should play here for the New York Yankees,” Cashman said Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters.

A move toasted by 2022 American League MVP Aaron Judge, he also invited Cashman to keep adding. But that’s not an order Cashman needed to hear.

Cashman said the Yankees had a representative at every start made by Japanese free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

“I personally saw him, we’ve scouting him extensively. He’s going to be a really successful pitcher anywhere on the planet,” Cashman said.

The competition to sign the 25-year-old ace is fierce. Mets owner Steve Cohen flew to Japan to meet with Yamamoto and the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are continually mentioned among the teams willing to hit the $300 million mark on a long-term offer to the free agent.

“When you’re in free agency, you’re going to compete. So we’ll compete,” Cashman said, with one caveat. “I don’t know if anybody can compete with Steve Cohen.”

Yamamoto spent the past six-plus seasons with the Orix Buffaloes, compiling a 70-29 record with one save and a 1.82 ERA in 172 games. He has struck out 922 batters over 897 innings.

In 23 games in 2023, he finished with a 16-6 record and 1.21 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 164 innings. Those numbers helped him to his third straight Triple Crown in the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball, as he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Cashman said the Yankees plan to make it enticing for Soto, who is entering the final year of his contract, to stay in New York. Soto declined a 14-year, $440 million offer from the Washington Nationals before he was traded to the San Diego Padres in July 2022.

He said there have been no talks with Scott Boras, Soto’s agent, regarding a new contract to date.