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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 12/10/23

Ohtani’s decision may present an opportunity for Yankees; minor league pitching dev continues to yield benefits; just who made the Padres nervous; Sasaki asks to be posted

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images | Max Goodman: By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Shohei Ohtani’s blockbuster 10-year, $700 million contract with the LA Dodgers. The Yankees were never serious bidders for the two-way star, but with a significant amount of Dodger payroll now spoken for, New York may have an opening to land another Japanese talent.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto was reportedly courted by five teams, one of whom might very well bow out of the bidding after inking Ohtani (though Jon Heyman is less certain). All indications are that the Mets are the biggest challenger to the Yankees landing the NPB ace, but one less possible competitor is always a good thing.

New York Post | Mark W. Sanchez: The Yankees haven’t had the most success developing in-house hitting over the past few seasons, but their pitching development is one of the best in the game. Time and again the club is able to dip into their reserves of high-ceiling arms to make trades to shore up other areas of the team, and a seeming at-will ability to replenish those minor league players should give us all hope that trend can continue. For now, the minor league pitching depth was what was needed to land Juan Soto, as no other team could provide that much talent on the mound all in one swoop.

SNY | Phillip Martinez: Speaking of that on-mound talent, the now-famous delay in the official acceptance of the trade was driven by caution on the Padres’ part. One pitcher in particular raised eyebrows once medical reports were sent over, but not enough caution to torpedo the deal.

MLB Trade Rumors | Mark Polishuk: The headlines are understandably focused on Ohtani and Yamamoto, but the next ascendant NPB pitcher is making a bid to come stateside. Rōki Sasaki has dazzled with a 1.92 ERA and 308 strikeouts in 220.1 innings between 2022-23, and the righty who just turned 22 wants to pull an Ohtani and come to Major League Baseball early. Although he’d immediately become one of the most sought-after pitchers on the market, the Chiba Lotte Marines are unlikely to let their former top pick go just yet after just three NPB seasons (per the Sponichi Annex).