Mariners Wishlist FA Target #1: Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Arguably the best pitcher on the free agent market this offseason, Yamamoto is going to be courted by a number of teams, and rightfully so. Yamamoto is up there with Kodai Senga, Mashiro Tanaka, and Dice K as the best pitchers to come over from Japan, winning the Cy Young equivalent 3 years in a row. Yamamoto is only 25 years old, a week older than Bryce Miller, most likely meaning he will get a long-term deal, maybe 8 or more years.
The reason I like the idea of signing Yamamoto is pretty simple and probably self-explanatory. First of all, he is just a really good pitcher. He would probably slot in as your #2 or #3 starter behind Castillo and maybe Kirby. Over the last 3 years he has averaged about 185 innings pitched. In those 3 seasons he has also had a sub-2.00 ERA each of those years with a crazy 1.16 ERA in 2023. He fits the mold of a control the zone type of guy with a 1.5 BB/9 in 2023 as well.
The 2nd part of why I really like the idea of signing him is that he gives you a really solid number 2 or 3 starter, allowing you to move Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, and maybe even Logan Gilbert for a really solid bat. You could trade Miller or Woo and acquire a really solid corner outfielder or third baseman, and your rotation would be even better than last year, which is insane.
Lastly, the Mariners have identified certain guys that they like and acquired them and extended them and the same could be here. The Mariners have been hesitant to give out long term contracts with those free agents being in their late 30's toward the end of the contract. That's the advantage with Yamamoto, he is only 25 years old, so even if you had to give out an 8- or 9-year contract, Yamamoto will only be 33 or 34 in the last year of his contract, which is very manageable, in fact, he could still be in his prime.