While the Major League Baseball offseason will not begin until the conclusion of the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals are already prepping for a busy winter, with Yoshinobu Yamamoto being a name they will take a long look at this winter.
Having just turned 25 years old, Yamamoto is the rare case of a starting pitcher just beginning to hit his prime in the free-agent market. While it's hard to know exactly how he will translate to the Major League level, he's had a historically good season in Japan, posting a 1.16 ERA in 24 games this year.
It's no wonder why MLB teams are excited about him this winter, with Jon Heyman reporting that the Cardinals are among the 11 teams scouting him so far.
For St. Louis, Yamamoto should be one of their top targets for a number of reasons. Yes, he will likely get a record deal for someone coming over from Japan (many wonder if he'll eclipse $200 million), but he is also just 25, as opposed to the early to mid-30s that most starters available are, and has no draft pick compensation attached to him.
The Mets are expected to "go big" for Yoshinobu Yamamoto
While I am sure a lot of teams will throw major offers Yamamoto's way, early reports seem to indicate that the Cardinals will have to outbid the New York Mets for the right's to Yamamoto.
Steve Cohen is not afraid to spend whatever it takes, so if he wants Yamamoto, he'll probably get him. But one does have to wonder if there will be more of a "limit" this time around after eating a ton of money on Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer's contracts. Will Cohen really want to grossly outspend everyone, especially with Pete Alonso set to hit free agency soon as well?
While we will talk more about the potential risks with Yamamoto over the coming weeks, the Cardinals would be foolish not to go toe to toe with the highest bidders in an effort to have Yamamoto top their rotation.