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Yoshinobu Yamamoto Reveals Free Agency Update, Red Sox Join Mets and Cardinals With Japanese Advantage

Published 11/26/2023, 2:29 PM EST

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Earlier this year, a certain Japanese ace of New York Mets fame headlined the news for making a bold statement. The pitcher apparently told his team that he wants NPB superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto in blue and orange. An honorable demand, given that adding Japan’s best pitcher to the roster will only increase the Mets’ chance of clinching a World Series title.

Yamamoto caught the attention of the entire professional baseball world with regular 95 mph balls and three consecutive Sawamura awards. Among the many teams rooting to have the 25-year-old in their bullpen, the Mets, the Cardinals, and now, the Boston Red Sox, seem to have personal connections to the slugger.

Brothers in arms: Is Yoshinobu Yamamoto heading towards a Mets or Cardinals future?

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St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder, Lars Nootbaar, has a beautiful friendship with Yoshinobu Yamamoto. As they played together on the Japanese team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, a beautiful friendship bloomed. The duo was instrumental in gaining the ultimate victory over the U.S. team. Furthermore, the players reportedly even have a familial connection. Yamamoto and Nootbaar’s mothers are close friends who converse daily, per what the Cards player told MLB.com.

Nootbaar has been all praise for his talented friend, “Yoshi is throwing that splitter at 89-91 [mph], and then it just falls off the table. It’s a legitimate pitch that is really gross. He’s really good.” This gives the Cardinals a high level of leverage in the Yamamoto race.

The New York Mets, on the other hand, have been demanded to get Yamamoto enrolled in their roster by his longtime friend, Kodai Senga. He has always been very vocal about his respect for Yoshi. He, too, played with Yoshinobu Yamamoto on the Japanese WBC team and spent time in NPB together. Whose connection will be favored?

The Boston Red Sox’s Yamamoto connection

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Amidst the speculation about Yamamoto’s predicted deal of $200 million, the Boston Red Sox have managed to jump a few steps ahead with their own Yoshinobu Yamamoto connection.

Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida had been teammates with Yamamoto for six seasons on their NPB team, the Orix Buffaloes. They are known to be “close” to each other, according to the Boston Herald. Apart from clinching a Japan Series win, the pair has also won a WBC title and an Olympic Gold Medal together.

Read More: Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s NPB Glory: A Comprehensive List of Every Award Won with the Orix Buffaloes

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Yamamoto’s agent, Joel Wolfe, reportedly told the Japanese media that the slugger is comfortable with the idea of sharing the spotlight with one of his fellow countrymen. Let’s see which team becomes lucky enough to get him on their payroll, shall we?

Watch This Story: Mets Gear Up For Yamamoto Showdown: Going All In Amidst Intense Yankee Pursuit

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Written by:

Shrabana Sengupta

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Shrabana Sengupta is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Shrabana shot to fame when she covered two prime MLB events: the 2023 World Series and the Free Agency that followed. During the 2023 World Series, Shrabana wrote her unfeigned perspectives on the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager and his wife, the 27x World Series Champions’ heartbreaking season, and later covered Shohei Ohtani’s highly anticipated record-breaking contract in 2023-24.
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Edited by:

Arunima Bhanot