Will Yoshinobu Yamamoto Replace Gerrit Cole as Ace, if the Yankees Make Pitching Free Agency History?

Published 12/19/2023, 7:50 AM EST

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Gerrit Cole has been the shining star of the New York Yankees for the past few years. The Bronx Bombers’ ace is the provider of stability and quality to a team that currently lacks both. Unsurprisingly, the position of Bronx’s first-choice pitcher seems to be his for a long time. But now that the Bombers are accelerating their pursuit of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, could this affect Cole’s position?

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The fact that Yamamoto is by far the most sought-after pitcher of the last few years does raise some doubts. The biggest reason behind those questions could be his overall cost to the Yankees’ payroll. If he breaks the record for the highest pitching contract, things could get a little dicey in the Pinstripes clubhouse.

Could Yoshinobu Yamamoto become the No.1 ace?

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It’s funny to think that Yamamoto can replace Cole as the Yankees’ ace due to his potential high-value contract. Because the record he’ll be breaking is of Cole himself, who signed a $324 million contract for 9 years with the Bombers in 2019. Though doubts are natural, as of this moment, it looks like Cole’s place is safe. The claim made has its own set of reasons. 

The Cy Young winner had one of his career-best seasons last year. In a roster that was filled with underperforming pitchers, it was Cole whose quality helped the Yankees in maintaining a decent defensive record. Additionally, he is one of the most universally loved players in the Pinstripes today, not only because of his performances, but for his lifelong Yankees fandom.

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All of this means that Cole’s position as the Yankees’ ace is quite safe, though his contract has an opt-out clause for 2024. As of now, chances of him exercising that clause do not seem high, but things can always change. At the same time, Yamamoto remains an unproven player in the MLB, so entrusting him with a topmost ace post right from the beginning doesn’t seem to be an apt strategy. However, the Japanese ace does bring in a handful of positives with him. 

Watch This Story: Yankees’ $324M Ace Steps Up With Aaron Judge As Major Shakeups Loon After Disappointing Season

Yamamoto’s age makes him perfect for a future role as the top ace. The Yankees could see him as an investment that will pay dividends later. And it’s not a unique solution as almost every one of Yamamoto’s suitors will probably wait before turning him into their no.1 pitcher.

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The strategy of waiting it out

Entrusting Yamamoto with the topmost ace post without any pitching experience in the major leagues seems like a major gamble. Though just last year Kodai Senga shined in that spot for the New York Mets, still it seems most teams could prefer to give Yamamoto time to adjust to the league first.

Everyone knows that Yamamoto is an extremely unique player. At just 25, he has all the time in the world to adjust and improve. Just putting him right into the high-pressure battle could seem a little too risky, especially to his confidence. Maybe Yamamoto will have to wait for his turn.

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Whether Yoshinobu Yamamoto replaces Gerrit Cole or not, “adding Yamamoto wouldn’t just help now and in the future.” With that, “It would make clear that the Yankees are The Yankees, again.”

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Written by:

Sanskar Dubey

580Articles

One take at a time

“Rigidity leads to demise, while adaptability paves the path to vitality." Driven by a deep passion for sports, I’m glad I found baseball. Now serving as an MLB writer at EssentiallySports, I love to write about the thrilling tussle between the National League and American League throughout the season, although I may have a fondness for a particular Yankees icon named Alex Rodriguez.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj

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