MLB insider: Red Sox ‘among the favorites’ for dream free agent pitcher

Is Boston getting ready to make a major splash?

Friday's news that the Boston Red Sox are no longer a candidate to sign Shohei Ohtani offered a rude awakening, but Red Sox fans can find some optimism in a new report surrounding one of baseball’s most exciting free agent pitchers.

The Red Sox “are among the favorites” to sign 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

Passan adds that the Red Sox will have to compete with the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs for the Japanese phenom’s services. Meanwhile, the Giants, Blue Jays, and Phillies might also remain in the mix. Yamamoto will meet with teams after next week’s Winter Meetings before making his decision, so don’t expect anything to be finalized until mid-December at the earliest.

MLB executives told Passan that Yamamoto will command a contract worth more than $200 million, and they wouldn’t be surprised to see him fetch north of $250 million. Such a deal would also require a posting fee of roughly $40 million to be paid to the Orix Buffaloes.

The posting fee is pre-determined by MLB and NPB. The first $25 million of a player’s contract is taxed at 20 percent, the next $25 million is taxed at 17.5 percent, and the remaining expense is taxed at 15 percent. For Yamamoto, a $200 million deal would include $31.875 million in posting fees. A contract worth $250 million would carry a $39.375 million fee.

Even though posting fees do not count toward the luxury tax, they’re an extra factor to consider. A club may be comfortable paying $250 million to Yamamoto but balk at the idea of sending another $40 million to his old club.

While Yamamoto has never thrown a pitch stateside and therefore carries risk, he also has massive upside. At just 25 years old, he could have 10-plus elite years ahead of him, and he already flashed enormous potential with a 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and 1.5 BB/9 through 171 innings with Orix in 2023.

Needless to say, adding Yamamoto to the rotation would give Boston a potential ace for several years to come, all while allowing the club to check a major task off its to-do list early in the offseason.