Free agent target Yoshinobu Yamamoto gets cozy with Phillies division rival

Yoshinobu Yamamoto had dinner with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen on Saturday
Yoshinobu Yamamoto had dinner with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen on Saturday / Kiyoshi Ota/GettyImages

According to reports that surfaced Sunday morning, top free agent starting pitcher target Yoshinobu Yamamoto had dinner with one of the Philadelphia Phillies division rivals on Saturday night. And it wasn't just dinner at a fancy restaurant, it was a personal invitation to New York Mets owner Steve Cohen's house.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Yamamoto dined with Cohen, his wife Alex, president of baseball operations David Stearns, manager Carlos Mendoza, and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

This news comes after the Phillies sent a contingent to Los Angeles to meet with Yamamoto and his team earlier this week. With the Phillies being tight-lipped about, well, just about everything this offseason, we don't know any details beyond that they met with the 25-year-old Japanese superstar.

The Mets have already officially met with Yamamoto when Cohen and Stearns, in an attempt to get a jump on the competition, flew to Japan to meet with the Orix Buffaloes pitcher. But according to Andy Martino of SNY, the Mets pushed for a second get-together to include Mendoza and Hefner as Yamamoto has met managers and coaches of other teams. It seems the Mets were just trying to level the playing field.

It's not time to fret yet, Phillies fans. While it remains a longshot that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld land the big fish this time around, this most recent development doesn't mean that the Mets have any more of an advantage than the other favorites in the running.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post doesn't seem to think the Mets' chances improved drastically because of the personal dinner date. He previously listed the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees as the favorites, with the Mets in third with 8-1 odds, by his calculations.

And with the Mets not being at the offer stage yet, per Martino, there's still time for the Phillies to place their bid when the bidding process gets going this week — assuming they are invited into the next round of finalists for Yamamoto's services.

More Philadelphia Phillies news and analysis