Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto, long a Yankees offseason target, will soon sign a lucrative contract with an MLB team.

On Tuesday, there may have been some encouraging news. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi appeared on Hot Stove and mentioned the Bronx Bombers are considered a “frontrunner.”

Yamamoto’s numbers speak for themselves. He owns a 1.82 career ERA in eight seasons with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes. The 25-year-old is also a three-time Pacific League MVP. Three Eiji Sawamura Awards—Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Cy Young—only add to a stunning resume. And now, let’s add three Pacific League Gold Gloves just for fun.

Now we know why Yankees GM Brian Cashman flew to Japan to watch Yoshinobu Yamamoto in September. The man is simply that good, perhaps even great.

However, the Yankees aren’t the only team interested in Yamamoto. The crosstown not-so-friendly rival New York Mets are making him their top priority. So much that owner Steve Cohen had Yamamoto over to his mansion for dinner last weekend. Cohen and Mets president David Stearns also flew to Japan earlier in the offseason and met with Yamamoto.

And yet, the Yankees are still in play. Not 24 hours after that private dinner with Cohen, Yamamoto asked for a Sunday morning meeting with them. Cashman happily obliged, and here we are.

All in all, Yoshinobu Yamamoto seems either New York team’s to lose. The Mets can name him their Opening Day starter upon signing him. On the Yankees, he’s a secondary ace behind Gerrit Cole on a team ready to win now.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers, and others remain engaged. So are the Phillies, who even had Bryce Harper appear at the meeting via FaceTime.

We know this dance too well. Yoshinobu Yamamoto will pick a team. One team will be happy. Others will curse his name. Mostly in Boston and Flushing, if the Yankees sign him.

The Yankees have remained “optimistic” about Yamamoto his whole free agency. Stay tuned to ESNY to see if they win out!

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.