The New York Mets are one of many teams focusing their attention on Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He has been an All-Star-caliber pitcher in the Japanese league since he entered in 2017. Yamamoto also had one of his best years yet last season posting a 1.21 ERA with a total of 169 strikeouts. The Mets have had him on their radar since the start of free agency but at the moment they are not seen as the clear-cut favorites when it comes to his preferred landing spot. There are two potential routes the Mets could take if a deal should fall through with Yamamoto.
Plan A: Monty or Snell?
The Mets have expressed a fair amount of interest in both of these pitchers as they look to them as a fallback if Yamamoto should choose another team. Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery had incredible years last year. Snell got his hands on his second Cy Young Award and Montgomery proved to the doubters that he is valuable pitcher to have on the postseason roster. The odds are in fact higher for the Mets to pivot to Montgomery but it is not that simple.
Montgomery is said to be using Carlos Rodon's contract with the Yankees as a reference when it comes to signing the dotted line in 2024. He deserves to get paid but that might not be in the Met's best interest to go all in this year for him. The talent is there but the Mets are not looking to be competitive for at least a couple of years. In light of this information, the big question is: Should the Mets wait until next year's free agency to pounce on that big-impact starter?
Plan B: Mets go all in on one of the SP in 2025?
The 2025 free-agent market is loaded from top to bottom with top-tier free-agent pitchers. This list includes: Walker Buehler, Corbin Burnes, Zack Wheeler, and Max Fried. The major difference between these pitchers to Yamamoto is the fact that all of these players have had multiple years to develop and have already established themselves in the MLB. Although Yamamoto has pitched extremely well in Japan, that league is levels lower than the MLB. Many teams, including the Mets, would be gambling on the numbers that Yamamoto has put up and banking on the fact that he will do the same once he transfers over to the big leagues.
Fans also have to take into account how high Yamamoto's price is gonna go. With Shohei Ohtani off the board, he is now the most coveted free agent with the bidding war just now beginning. He is expected to make well over $300 million and if it gets to the $400 million range is that considered the breaking point for the Mets? In this case, waiting just one year might just be the better option for the team especially because it also fits with their timeline. Next year, the Mets would be in a much better position solely because they would be able to bring up most of their top prospects and would be a lot more willing to go after other big names in the free-agent pool.
Working in favor of the Mets is the dinner Yamamoto had at Steve Cohen's home after the star pitcher requested a second meeting. However, he has also requested a second meeting with the Yankees and the Dodgers are still looming despite getting Tyler Glasnow. His free agency has certainly been one to remember but only time can tell what jersey he is going to put on in 2024.