LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 22: Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (L) attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Crypto.com Arena on November 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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The Yankees and Mets Are Fighting Over This Free Agent

Major League Baseball is at its best when the two New York teams are competing against one another, and they're doing so this offseason in a bidding war for Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

According to Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post, the Yankees and Mets are expected to have a bidding war over Yamamoto, the 25 year old Japanese super-prospect who is one of the top free agent pitchers this offseason. 

There are multiple reasons why the Mets and Yankees will be two of the main teams seeking Yamamoto's services next season; one being that Yamamoto — who has won the pitching Triple Crown (wins, ERA, strikeouts) as well as the equivalent of the Japanese Cy Young in three straight seasons within Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) — might be asking for upwards of $200 million to sign. While most MLB teams would likely be willing to give Yamamoto that, the Mets and the Yankees have some of the league's deepest pockets, and wouldn't hesitate to pay Yamamoto that price.

In addition to his financial desires, Yamamoto has also stated that he would be happy to (and perhaps even prefer) playing alongside a fellow former NPB player. The Mets currently have Kodai Senga, a former NPB pitcher who signed to a five-year, $75 million deal last offseason and who is actively trying to recruit Yamamoto. While the Yankees don't currently have a Japanese player, they're heavily involved in the ongoing Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, and have a rich history of successful signings from the NPB (namely, Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka). 

In fact, the Yankees have been saving Yamamoto's favorite uniform number (#18) for him since last season. #18 is not only what Yamamoto wore on the NPB's Orix Buffaloes last season, but it's also traditionally considered the "ace" number in Japan. The aforementioned Masahiro Tanaka wore #18 during his Yankees tenure, so the Yankees wanted to keep the number available if — and, in their eyes, when — Yamamoto puts on the pinstripes. 

The bidding war between New York's two behemoth franchises should gain steam in the coming days, as the market for Yamamoto becomes clearer. Only time will tell which (if either) New York team will get their guy, and which will end up empty-handed.

MORE: Best Japanese Players in MLB History, Ranked