The offseason shouldn't depend on the Mets signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto and yet it does

The Mets truly are in Yoshinobu Yamamoto or bust mode.
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) throws a pitch against
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) throws a pitch against / Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The quiet MLB Winter Meetings outside of the Juan Soto trade surely have lots of fans nervous. The mighty New York Mets have approached the offseason differently than the last two. Aggressive from the jump when it came to significant signings, this winter has been more about filling gaps than setting up a foundation.

Still available and at the front of everyone's minds is free agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. A name we've all discussed so much at this point, simply putting a Y into an electronic device auto-fills with his name.

Yamamoto is the one free agent Mets fans have universally agreed needs to come to Flushing. The offseason shouldn't hinge on whether or not the team is able to sign him and yet it's all that matters.

If the Mets lose the Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes, there isn’t much else to do

David Stearns hasn't publicly outlined exactly what it is he plans to do with the team. Some obvious guesses have them adding to the pitching staff further while also bringing an outfielder to Queens. They're in the mix for both long term saviors like Yamamoto and one-year hopes like Luis Severino. Everyone else in between doesn't quite seem to match the expectation for the club.

Belief that the Mets have already turned away from Shohei Ohtani eliminates them from making him their big offseason move. Once thought of as a heavy favorite to sign him, it seems Ohtani is destined to land elsewhere. This leaves the Mets with fewer headline grabbing free agent deals to make.

But it’s not about out-headlining the Yankees. It’s about winning a championship. When Steve Cohen took over the team, interest was reignited. His mission to give Mets fans a ball club they could be proud of has been present throughout his three years. Unfortunately, two losing seasons and a single playoff win is all we’ve gotten.

The recalibrated Mets have settled on short-term deals with mostly reclamation projects this offseason. Yamamoto would be an outlier on the transaction log. His price tag is nearing $300 million with all of the fees involved. A player of his talent in his mid-20s doesn’t come around often at any position. Pitchers these days rarely even reach their peak until they’re approaching their 30s.

The next level of pitchers available for the Mets after Yamamoto are uninspiring. A trade? This doesn’t seem to balance well alongside everything else they’ve done. A bullpen of question marks. A rotation with soon-to-be free agents with some of their own. A lineup missing a big bat. Lots of kids on the roster who underwhelmed often last season.

Can the Mets have a good offseason even without signing Yamamoto? It’ll be tough and frankly, they probably won’t make any of those alternative moves that would make us feel confident. It’s because they don’t exist. The team isn’t going to give up assets, at least not now, for a young starting pitcher. Free agency doesn’t offer a missing ace.

The Mets can improve themselves drastically this offseason even without Yamamoto. Missing out on him, however, would be impossible to accept. Spending money is the weapon the Mets have and even if they land this one pitcher with it, fans will be satisfied regardless of the results in 2024.

Having successfully convinced a large portion of the fans to stick with them and trust the process, the one impossible sell is if Yamamoto doesn’t end up in blue and orange.