If the Los Angeles Dodgers miss out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, you at least have to admit they gave it their best shot while he was in town.
A mistranslated call with Yamamoto's agent Joel Wolfe ignited a brief firestorm last week, leading to reports that the right-hander outright demanded a fellow Japanese star on his next MLB team. That wasn't true; Yamamoto merely indicated to his agent that he'd be willing to share the locker room with one of his countrymen, significant in and of itself given the widespread trepidation to do so.
Who knows where Shohei Ohtani lands on the matter, but rumor has it the Dodgers are in on both players, and don't believe it's an "either/or" situation. That would mean a ~$250 million pitching contract and a ~$500 million deal for the face of baseball in one offseason, but if the two parties would consent to a partnership, it's hard to imagine a more effective way for the Dodgers to spend a cornucopia of cash this offseason.
Whether the pairing is a long shot or not, Yamamoto seems ready to get as comfortable as possible in Hollywood in the meantime. The right-hander was spotted courtside at a Lakers-Mavericks game during Thanksgiving Week, and while the Texas Rangers are reportedly pursuing Ohtani, Yamamoto doesn't seem to have a Dallas connection. Let the rumors begin.
Dodgers target Yoshinobu Yamamoto takes in Lakers game during MLB Free Agency
We've seen enough. Yamamoto likely met with LeBron James, who convinced him to go to ... Cleveland?! No!
Yamamoto's process for choosing an MLB team has begun in earnest, with an early round of Zoom meetings following his official posting. Per reports, he'll then weed down the list of interested parties to a cluster of finalists, with a decision coming following the Winter Meetings (being held Dec. 4-7 in Nashville).
Ohtani is rumored to be making his big move far sooner than that; according to Jeff Passan, a decision could come prior to the Winter Meetings, giving him about a week to get situated. While Mets broadcaster Howie Rose gave fans a scare over Thanksgiving, insinuating that Ohtani news was around the corner, he might not have been totally misguided.
The chips could fall in two separate cities after all, but expect Ohtani to make his choice first and Yamamoto to follow. It's not a slam dunk that both men choose Los Angeles, but it's at the very least a transition layup opportunity. Let's see whether the Dodgers can finish or get blocked in transition by Dallas or New York.