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New York Mets to Get Chance to Meet With Free-agent Superstar

The time is coming for the New York Mets to meet with Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto in person.

On Sunday night, the New York Post reported that Yamamoto is expected to come to the U.S. in the next week, as had been expected. The bigger news is that the Post confirmed that the Mets are one of the teams that Yamamoto is scheduled to meet with face-to-face.

Last week, Yamamoto and his agent, Joel Wolfe, met via Zoom and by phone with MLB teams that expressed an initial interest in him after his posting in November.

From that list, Yamamoto was going to select a group of finalists and meet with them in person, most likely after the conclusion of this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

It now appears the Mets made the cut.

Yamamoto is 25 and considered the crown jewel of a group of talented Asian players that have either been posted or will be posted soon. Two other Japanese pitchers — Shota Imagana and Naoyuki Uwasawa — were posted last week.

Many expect Yamamoto to get a contract in excess of $200 million. The Athletic tabbed Yamamoto as the Mets’ best fit in free agency and projected a seven-year, $211 million deal. He must have a deal done by Jan. 4 or his rights revert back to the Buffaloes.

Last week Yamamoto learned that was named the Pacific League MVP for the third straight season, making him just the third player in Nippon Professional Baseball history to be named an MVP in three straight seasons, joining Ichiro Suzuki (1994-96) and Hisashi Yamada (1976-78).

Yamamoto had already claimed the Sawamura Award, which is the Japanese Cy Young, for the third straight season.

Yamamoto has a 70-29 record. He has a mid-90s fastball, but he is best known for an array of breaking pitches that can befuddle hitters. This season he had just a 1.21 ERA. He also went 16-6 and struck out 169 hitters in 164 innings.

Yamamoto just wrapped up play in the Japan Series, their country’s equivalent of the World Series. His final game saw him strike out 14 hitters in Game 6, which set a series record.

Yamamoto has thrown two no-hitters in his career. He’s also won gold medals for Japan in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Source: SI