The Chicago Cubs are expected to be interested in Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinono Yamamoto this off-season but so will other big market teams that will likely drive up his asking price.
Yamamoto is expected to make the transition to Major League Baseball this off-season and multiple executives including Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer traveled to Japan over the course of the past year to get a first-hand scouting report of the starting pitcher.
Unlike last winter, where there were questions over whether or not Kodai Senga's pitch repertoire would translate to being a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in Major League Baseball, there seems to be an understanding that Yamamoto will easily slide near the top of any starting rotation.
That is reflected in Yamamoto's projected contract by Tim Britton of The Athletic (Subscription Required). Britton projects that Yamamoto will land a seven-year deal worth $203MM. If that is indeed where Yamamoto's asking price lies, the Cubs will not be interested.
The signing of Yu Darvish altered the Cubs' philosophy regarding offering starting pitchers long-term deals. The initial return on investment for the Cubs on the Darvish deal was poor and by the time that Darvish did return to form, a mandate from ownership forced the team to trade their ace to the San Diego Padres.
Even when the Cubs have reached a point where they are leaning into the expectation that they will be aggressive this off-season, team chairman Tom Ricketts seemed to clarify that the spending will not occur on starting pitchers. That does not mean that the Cubs won't add a starting pitcher this winter but it will be at a cost that does not prohibit them in the long-term.