The Yankees have made their pitch to Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Now they wait to see if it will be enough to land the top free-agent arm on the market.
A Yankees contingent — including Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and Matt Blake — spent Monday in Los Angeles to meet with Yamamoto and his representatives, trying to continue their full-court press of the Japanese ace.
The Yankees are just one of the big-market teams involved in the Yamamoto sweepstakes — along with the Mets, Dodgers and Giants, among others — and the final price could end up being upwards of $300 million, including posting fees (which are a percentage of the total value of the contract).
Teams have until Jan. 4 to sign Yamamoto, the 25-year-old who is a three-time winner of Nippon Professional Baseball’s version of the Cy Young award.
The Giants met with Yamamoto on Sunday, ESPN reported.
It was not yet clear whether the Mets planned to meet with Yamamoto again after Steve Cohen and David Stearns flew to Japan to sit down with him and his family two weeks ago.
The Dodgers also remained interested in Yamamoto, especially with Shohei Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million contract including $68 million in deferrals per year, which lowers his average annual value for luxury-tax purposes to $46 million per year, according to The Post’s Jon Heyman.
While Boone had met Yamamoto in a previous offseason (they just happened to be in the same place and were introduced, the manager said last week), Monday offered the rest of the Yankees group a chance to visit with him in person for the first time.
Their interest in the right-hander goes back years, though, through a scouting process that included Cashman visiting Japan in September to watch him throw a no-hitter.
“We’ve scouted him extensively and think he’s going to be a really successful pitcher anywhere he pitches on the planet,” Cashman said at last week’s winter meetings. “He’s a free agent and we’ll see where it takes us. But we’ve definitely had conversations and will give our best efforts.”
Cashman would not say whether the Yankees would use Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka in their recruitment of Yamamoto, but it would not be surprising if they did after both enjoyed strong careers in The Bronx.
Matsui was also represented by the same agency as Yamamoto is (Wasserman) and Tanaka spent the last three seasons pitching in the same league as Yamamoto.
“We’re gonna put our best foot forward in our attempts to recruit free agents in whatever [way] we feel is helpful,” Cashman said. “Clearly the biggest thing typically is negotiating a contract, that would be something that would be enticing, but on top of that, if there’s certain things that would assist the process or help shine a positive light on us [we would do it].
“Ultimately we’ll play every card necessary that we think is gonna help us and see where it takes us.”
There is always some uncertainty as to how Japanese players will adjust to MLB — using a different ball, heavier travel, perhaps fewer days between starts and facing better competition — but the Yankees seemed convinced that Yamamoto will thrive stateside.
He would serve as a strong No. 2 in their rotation behind Gerrit Cole and would be the same age as the other superstar the Yankees just landed in Juan Soto,
“I have no doubt about his abilities,” Cashman said. “And I think obviously, the fact that you’re going to see a lot of people over here trying to see if they can win his decision over is a testament of the quality of talent that he is and what exists over in Japan.”— Additional reporting by Jon Heyman
This story originally appeared on NYPost