We might all be old and gray by the time the Yoshinobu Yamamoto saga is over. The newest reports say that he might not make a decision on a team until the New Year, following meetings, lavish presentations, more meetings, Bryce Harper on FaceTime, and more meetings.
Teams are doing everything they can to sign Yamamoto — Los Angeles Dodgers executives are throwing themselves, their players, and reportedly $250-300 million at him in hopes that he'll choose them, but everyone else is doing that, too.
The New York Mets — a team Yamamoto has reportedly had two meetings with in the United States so far, one at Steve Cohen's house in Connecticut — also seem to be employing some psychological warfare. Sources have told the New York Post that part of the Mets' strategy is selling Yamamoto on the idea that he wouldn't have to live in Shohei Ohtani's shadow in New York.
Mets trying to use Shohei Ohtani against Dodgers in Yoshinobu Yamamoto race
This is an interesting strategy for the Mets to stake their Yamamoto hopes and dreams on, and it's sort of hilarious that their play can be distilled to "We don't have Ohtani! Isn't that great?" First of all, one could argue that everyone in the league lives in Shohei Ohtani's shadow, whether or not they play on the same team with him.
Second, it sort of suggests that the Dodgers would intentionally prioritize Ohtani over Yamamoto specifically. If the Dodgers prioritize Ohtani — which, to be fair, they very well could — it won't be personal. They'll prioritize him over the whole team, the farm system, the future of the front office. He is literally contractually allowed to leave if the Dodgers fire certain executives. Tyler Glasnow probably knew all of that before signing his extension, but he still cited his excitement to play on the same team as Ohtani as a positive factor in his decision to a long-term deal with the Dodgers.
Yamamoto has also reportedly been vocal about his desire to play on a team with other Japanese players, and there are only eight of them in MLB. When there are so few, and both the Dodgers and Ohtani loom so large, it's hard to believe that Yamamoto has ever seen being on the same team as him as a negative thing.
We won't get too cocky; it seems like the Mets, along with the Yankees and probably the Phillies, do have a real chance at getting Yamamoto. However, it is sort of a reaching, throwing-everything-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks argument for Steve Cohen to make. If Yamamoto comes to the Dodgers, it's more likely that it'll be because of Ohtani than in spite of him.