Yoshinobu Yamamoto mets yankees
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees would love to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but could see their plans foiled by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Thanks to the enormous deferrals in Shohei Ohtani’s new $700 million contract, the Dodgers have some extra spending cash. And, per Russell Dorsey of Bally Sports, the team is indeed “aggressively pursuing” Yamamoto. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci later confirmed the Dodgers’ interest.

Of course, Yankees fans were (and probably still are) right to be nervous. The Dodgers could offer Yoshinobu Yamamoto a $350 million contract tomorrow and be the highest bidders overnight. Moreover, Los Angeles is easily the best organization in baseball top to bottom, from player development to analytics to international scouting.

Add their exceptional protection of their players’ collective privacy, and the Dodgers are just a team that does it all the right way.

And yet, it just doesn’t seem realistic that Yamamoto winds up in LA.

Don’t get me wrong, I say this knowing very much I’ll have to eat these very words. But taking everything into consideration— Yamamoto’s desired salary, market size, and his own success in Japan—the Dodgers just don’t seem like his ultimate destination. And for one sole reason:

Shohei Ohtani.

Yes, the two were teammates and won gold for Japan at last year’s World Baseball Classic and seem to be friends. Except isn’t Yoshinobu Yamamoto enough of a talent that he deserves to forge his own path and be the hero of his own story?

No matter how you spin it, even on a 10-year deal, Yamamoto would never outshine Ohtani in Los Angeles. The two-time MVP just commands too much of a presence. The fact that he got such a big contract and isn’t even pitching next year proves that.

Now, there are some out there who are probably pointing to the New York Mets and Kodai Senga. The 30-year-old debuted in MLB last year after 11 years with Japan’s Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. He’s also the Mets’ projected ace as of now, which would obviously change with Yamamoto aboard.

There’s the rub. On the Mets, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the ace and he and Kodai Senga are teammates, contemporaries, almost equals. With the Yankees, Giants, and others, Yamamoto can set himself apart from the pack, even reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole.

But in Los Angeles, what is Yamamoto next to Shohei Ohtani? A 20-karat Rolex next to one studded with diamonds. The strong, savory Angus porterhouse next to the sleek wagyu. Or a decked out Kobe beef burger.

No matter how you slice it, Yoshinobu Yamamoto would never be the star of the Dodgers. He could post a sub-2 ERA for three years in a row, but would still pale to the modern Babe Ruth that is Shohei Ohtani.

Yamamoto is fast approaching the fork in the road and needs to make his decision. Down one path is picking any other team and becoming a legend in his own right. Down the other is doing the same with the Dodgers, but always second in line behind Ohtani.

It’s his choice. Let’s see him make it.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.