Steve Cohen — ‘Life goes on’ for Mets after missing out on Yamamoto

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Despite Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto choosing to join the Dodgers in a high-profile move worth a total investment of $375 million, Mets owner Steve Cohen said he would not change a thing about how the team pursued the prized free agent pitcher.

“I think the whole organization tried our hardest, and someone was going to win and someone was going to lose and that is the way it goes,” Cohen told the New York Post on Friday. “I feel good about our efforts and I left it all on the field. Life goes on.”

As part of this steadfast effort to court Yamamoto to Queens, Cohen and president of baseball operations David Stearns went to Japan before the winter meetings to speak with the 25-year-old right-hander and his family. Yamamoto’s tour around the United States included another stop with the Mets, a pair of visits with the Yankees and meetings with the Dodgers, Giants, Phillies and Red Sox.

The get-togethers helped Yamamoto crystallize his priorities before the teams started talking terms of the deal with Yamamoto and his agent, Joel Wolfe, on Monday. Cohen ultimately made a similar contract offer to Yamamoto — 12 years and $325 million plus opt-outs — but couldn’t overcome the Dodgers, who have now accounted for more than half the spending across MLB in free agency this winter, following the 10-year, $700 million contract they gave to Shohei Ohtani, Yamamoto’s countryman.

Cohen told the Post that missing out on Yamamoto would have minimal effect on how the Mets build for next year.

“Last I looked, there’s never one player that is going to make or break your team,” Cohen said of Yamamoto, who has dominated Nippon Professional Baseball like nobody else in the league’s 74-year history since transitioning from bullpen to the Orix Buffaloes’ rotation in 2019. “We’ll build it. It will happen. Slowly and surely you will see changes and improvements. We have got the right management in place with a shared vision.”

Despite not having Yamamoto in the fold for at least the next decade, Cohen indicated to the Post that he isn’t simply going to stand pat as he tries to shore up the Mets after they finished fourth in the National League East this year at 75-87 and with a record payroll projected to finish at $346 million.

But he said he’s quickly come to grips with the reality that the front office’s time is best used finding other ways to chart a course for the future of the franchise rather than dwelling on missing out on their biggest target.

“We’re going to be thoughtful and not impulsive and thinking about sustainability over the intermediate long-term, but not focused on winning the headlines over the next week,” Cohen said. “I think there’s a couple of ways to build a team.”

Information from ESPN’s Jeff Passan was used in this report.



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