Mets offseason move that fits into their new direction #4: Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto
The Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB) are expected to post ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto this winter. This year’s MLB free agent class is projected to be a fairly weak one, so Yamamoto will be one of the best pitchers available and multiple teams will be bidding on him.
Yamamoto has been one of the best pitchers in Japan since he started playing in 2017. In seven professional seasons, he owns a 1.81 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.61. The most aesthetically pleasing part of his baseball reference is his HR/9, which has dropped incrementally from 0.5 from 2017-19, to 0.4 in 2020, to 0.3 from 2021-22, and down to 0.2 this year.
2023 has been arguably his best season so far. He’s got a 1.57 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.64. He’s struck out 121 batters in 115 innings pitched.
Yamamoto has won the Eiji Sawamura Award (the Japanese version of the Cy Young Award) twice in 2021 and 2022, and he was also the Pacific League MVP in both of those years.
Billy Eppler has a history of interest in Japanese stars, including bringing Shohei Ohtani to the Angels and signing current Mets ace (I guess?) Kodai Senga. Since he’s already been to Japan to see Yamamoto pitch, this won’t be any different. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Eppler could convince both of them to join Senga in Queens this winter…?