HomeOther Philly SportsPhillies to meet with Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Thursday, according to reports

Phillies to meet with Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Thursday, according to reports

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FILE: Yoshinobu Yamamoto of Japan throws a ball during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) match between Australia and Japan at Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo on March 12, 2023. Yamamoto may transfer to the Major League Baseball (MLB) through the posting system.( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

On the 13-year anniversary of luring Cliff Lee back to town in free agency, the Philadelphia Phillies are apparently meeting with another coveted starting pitcher.

Both John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia and Jon Heyman of The New York Post are reporting that the Phillies are meeting with coveted Japanese starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto Thursday. Clark describes those meeting with Yamamoto as “a group of Phillies personnel and management,” while Heyman refers to it as “a Phillies contingent.”

It remains unclear if the Phillies can work their way into being a serious contender for Yamamoto, who is the most-anticipated Japanese player to come to MLB since Shohei Ohtani. Yamamoto has consistently been connected as a free agent to the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, all teams who have much richer histories of successfully convincing Japanese talent to join their teams. The only two Japanese players that have ever played for the Phillies are Tadahito Iguchi and So Taguchi, both of whom played for other MLB teams before coming to the Phillies.

What we do know is that nothing negative can come from the Phillies pursuing Yamamoto. Can you imagine adding a pitcher who went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA for Japan’s Orix Buffaloes last year to a starting rotation also set to include Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez? Such an outcome still feels unlikely, with MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki writing earlier this week that while Bryce Harper did narrate a hype video presented previously to Yamamoto, the Phillies “do not expect to sign him.” But stranger things have happened, so it doesn’t hurt to try. And in the process, the Phillies may increase the price a rival, like the Mets, has to pay for Yamamoto.

Over on Just Baseball, I predicted early in free agency that it would take eight years and $240 million to sign Yamamoto, who is only 25 years old. MLB Trade Rumors predicted a nine-year/$225 million deal for the Japanese sensation. And in a stream for Bleacher Report, the aforementioned Heyman opined earlier this week that Yamamoto may be able to get a 10-year commitment from whatever team signs him.

As part of the posting system in place between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB, Yamamoto has 45 days to pick a team from the time of him being posted by the Buffaloes, a period that ends on Jan. 4, 2024.

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