Yoshinobu Yamamoto fue declared a free agent on Major League Baseball Monday morning. Among the teams that are interested and have a chance to sign the Japanese star is the New York Yankees.
In the history of the Bronx Bombers, seven Japanese players have worn the striped jersey. Now I want to remember their names and what they contributed to the Bronx team.
In 1997, the Yankees decided to pay Irabu $12.8 million guaranteed for four seasons. It was a battle because the team belonging to the Japanese, the Chiba Lotte Mariners, had already agreed with the San Diego Padres but the pitcher himself refused to sign with them and finally managed to reach the Bombers, but he could not complete the four . years because In the first three games in the Bronx he did not perform as expected and left a balance of 29 wins and 20 losses, his ERA was 4.80 in 74 games pitched in which he struck out 315 batters in 395.2 innings of work. Sadly this pitcher died young at the age of 42, on July 27, 2011.
The Yankees, after the failure with Irabu, took six seasons to sign another player from the Far East and it was in 2003 that they did not miss the talent of “Godzila” Hideki Matsui. The offer was for three years and 21 million dollars and then he was given 52 million for four seasons, becoming the second Japanese player to get the most money in the team. The arrival of this famous hitter in the Bronx was a spectacle and to the delight of the fans and the organization, “Godzila” was able to live up to expectations to the point of becoming the MVP of the 2009 World Series, the last won by Yankees. .
There were seven seasons with the Bronx Bombers and in that internship he left with 140 home runs, a .292 batting average, 977 hits, and 597 RBIs in 916 games.
If you look up the worst contracts in New York Yankees history, Kei Igawa’s name is sure to pop up. First they have to give 26 million just to enter the bidding then the agreement is for five seasons and 20 million dollars.
The end result was a fiasco where in his first season in 2007, Igawa in 14 games pitched gave him 15 home runs, scored 47 earned runs with an ERA of 6.25. Things did not change in 2018 and after 6 earned runs scored in four innings, he ended his career not only with the Yankees but in Major League baseball, although he continued in the minors in Bombers until 2011.
Unlike the three names mentioned above, Kuroda has been in the Major Leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers for four seasons and in 2012 he signed with the Yankees for one season and the amount of 10 million. In that contest, the Japanese left his best season in the Majors with 16 games won, an ERA of 3.32 in 33 games pitched. The Bombers hired him two more times and in three games in a striped uniform, his numbers were respectable with 38 wins, a 3.44 earned run average in 620 innings of work.
Igarashi was claimed on May 29, 2012 by the Bombers after being placed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. His time as a Yankee was the shortest of any other Japanese player, pitching in just two games during a three-inning stretch in which he scored four earned runs.
During the 2012 competition, something unprecedented and the only time the Bronx Bombers had three Japanese-born players on their roster. The baseball world saw one of the greatest players in history wear the jersey of the most famous team in baseball history when Ichiro Suzuki became a Yankee on July 23, 2012 as a result of a trade with the Mariners for money and hurlers DJ Mitchell and Danny Farquhar
In addition to the 2012 season, Ichiro continued with the Bronx Bombers for two more seasons and left a total of 311 hits in 360 games, with a batting average of .281 and 84 RBIs with 127 runs scored.
Only two players have worn the Yankees jersey for seven seasons. One is Matsui and the other is Tanaka, who is listed in history as the Japanese with the largest contract offered by the Bombers. Masahiro signed for seven years and $155 million.
Has 78 wins, with an ERA of 3.74 in 174 games pitched, 173 as a starter. He pitched 1054.1 innings, struck out 991 opponents and represented the Yankees in two All-Star Games, arguably the Japanese pitcher with the best statistics.
Could Yoshinobu Yamamoto join the Yankees? Undoubtedly, there is financial muscle and interest according to many reports. The Bombers with an arm like this Japanese firethrower could enter the 2024 season with a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Néstor Cortes Jr., Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Carlos Rodón, leaving room for a pitching battle between Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, Johnny Brito, Randy Vásquez and others.