While most of the world has been focused on the fallout of Shohei Ohtani's deal with the Dodgers, more progress has been made with the next domino that is likely to fall in free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto's combination of age and stuff is something that the free agent market rarely sees and most of the league would kill to have him on their rosters and that very much includes the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox have long been rumored to be interested in Yamamoto and there is certainly a need in Boston's rotation for a top-end starter. Thankfully, the Red Sox are indeed meeting with Yamamoto in the coming days as he works his way through his prospective suitors this week.
Boston's pursuit of Yamamoto will tell us a lot about how the rest of the offseason will play out
To say that the league-wide interest in Yamamoto is high would be an understatement. Many are already predicting that the Japan product will get a contract in excess of $300 million wherever he ends up. The Mets' Steve Cohen flew to Japan to try and sell Yamamoto on New York's long-term vision while (probably) waving a large sum of money at him. The Giants and Yankees have already met with him and both have deep pockets and the Dodgers are in thick of things as well. There are also going to be other teams that give their best pitch after Boston meets with him. Right now, Yamamoto is the belle of the ball.
While Boston probably isn't the favorite to sign Yamamoto at the moment, how aggressively they pursue him should tell us a lot about how Craig Breslow is going to run the team. Here is a pitcher in his prime that could lead the Red Sox's beleaguered rotation for years to come which is a very rare opportunity to have. The Red Sox simply have to put their best foot forward here.
If Breslow goes hard after Yoshinobu, that bodes well going forward even if Yamamoto decides to play elsewhere. It would at least be a nice change of pace from the Red Sox avoiding top free agents and trying to trim payroll and win on the cheap. Being aggressive would put other top free agent starters like Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell on the table as options and both would be nice consolation prizes.
However, if the Red Sox try to get cute and focus too much getting maximal value for every nickel they spend and bow out of the Yamamoto bidding early, it would be incredibly disappointing. We all know that Boston owner John Henry has a firm grip on his wallet, but that is going to have to change if the Red Sox are going to even attempt to keep pace in the AL East. If not, this could be yet another disappointing offseason for Boston fans.