Yukihito Taguchi | USA TODAY Sports

Meet Munetaka Murakami.

He is a 22-year-old third baseman and phenom for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He has a chance to break the NPB single-season home run record this year. And the Yankees should have begun to figure out how to get him in pinstripes yesterday.

Imagine this guy taking hacks at the short porch in right field? Or him and Aaron Judge back-to-back in the order? My goodness.

Alas. From MLB.com:


Murakami, a 22-year-old third baseman, has hit 55 home runs this season for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. With 17 games to play, he’s one homer away from breaking the legendary Sadaharu Oh’s record for the most in a season by a Japanese-born player in Nippon Professional Baseball.

(…)

Japanese baseball observers don’t expect the Swallows to make Murakami available to MLB teams through the posting process anytime soon.

Boo. Murakami would be considered an international amateur free agent until he’s 25, which would tamp down how much he can make with his initial contract. So the expectation is he will stay in Japan before he can maximize his payday. And obviously the Swallows want him to keep launching bombs for them.

But Shohei Ohtani left Japan early despite the same calculus, so there is precedent. And Murakami would certainly cushion the financial blow by cleaning up from an endorsement standpoint if he was with the Yankees. Or the Mets or the Dodgers or any big market team, really.

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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JamesKratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.