Exclusive: Brian Cashman Discusses Yankees’ Pursuit of Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Other Key TargetsDecember 6, 2023
Roughly a month after delivering fiery remarks at the GM Meetings, a more subdued Brian Cashman addressed the Yankees’ various offseason pursuits at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. He spoke glowingly of the right-hander during a media scrum that lasted about 26 minutes. The general manager also vowed that the Yankees will “give it our best efforts” when it comes to signing the 25-year-old Yamamoto. “He’s gonna be a really successful pitcher anywhere he pitches on the planet,” said Cashman, who saw Yamamoto throw a no-hitter in Japan back in September. Yamamoto achieved just about everything imaginable in his home country during a seven-year career with the Orix Buffaloes. With a résumé like that, it’s no wonder the Yankees have serious competition for Yamamoto’s services.
The Mets are also in the hunt for Yamamoto, who is expected to clear $200 million in earnings. With that in mind, Cashman was asked if the Yankees — or anyone for that matter — can outbid Steve Cohen for the hurler. “I don’t know if anybody can compete with Steve Cohen,” Cashman said of the Mets owner, “but he’s obviously a titan of industry. He’s had a lot of success and built an empire, which has allowed him to do things like [buy] the Mets.
While other teams, including the Mets, can lean on past and present Japanese players to recruit Yamamoto, Cashman suggested that former Yankees of the same ilk could help them, too. Cashman would not say if the likes of Hideki Matsui, Masahiro Tanaka and others were actively recruiting for the pinstripers, but their success in New York can’t hurt the Yankees’ odds in the Yamamoto sweepstakes.
The Yankees and Padres have discussed trade scenarios for the 25-year-old superstar, but San Diego’s reported asking prices have been considered steep, with names like Michael King, Clarke Schmidt and Drew Thorpe being mentioned as possible Yankees centerpieces in a larger package. Soto is projected to make $33 million in arbitration this winter. A Scott Boras client, he is expected to test free agency next offseason after his rejection of a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from the Nationals sparked a trade to San Diego two seasons ago.
The Yankees would like to keep King after he transitioned to the rotation with exciting results, but Cashman conceded that the Yankees can’t make too many players off-limits in trade talks after they missed the playoffs in 2023. Cashman used the same “untouchables” line while discussing Gleyber Torres, the Yankees’ best hitter who stayed healthy in 2023.
Cody Bellinger is another free agent the Yankees have been linked to. The National League Comeback Player of the Year had a stellar season for the Cubs, hitting .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs, 97 RBI and a career-high 20 stolen bases after two down, injury-impeded seasons with the Dodgers. Cashman would not say if he found Bellinger’s advanced stats concerning. “I would say that if I was Cody Bellinger, I’ve done everything I need to do as I enter the free agent market to put my agent, Scott Boras, in a position to do well, for him and his family,” Cashman said. “Not much more to add than that. He’s done everything he needs to do.”
Cashman said that third base is not an area of need with the personnel the Yankees have in place. The GM didn’t declare a starter for the position, but options include DJ LeMahieu and Oswald Peraza. Both are also capable of playing second if the Yankees trade Torres. Cashman said that he’s spoken to reps for a few of the Yankees’ in-house free agents, including Wandy Peralta.