Phillies Reportedly Bid $300 Million on Yamamoto
Much of the 2023-2024 MLB offseason has focused to the West Coast, in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent over a billion dollars on two free agents: two-way player Shohei Ohtani and right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Phillies were interested in Yamamoto, though along the way the reportedly were pessimistic about their chances to sign him. According to a report, we now know just how involved the Phillies were.
In his latest MLB free agency update ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Phillies were one of the teams whose offer exceeded the $300-million mark for Yamamoto. Yamamoto ultimately received $325 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers, over 12 years. It is unclear how many years the Phillies offered.
For travel reasons, the West Coast has had an advantage to sign Japanese players; to travel back to Japan is usually an additional six-hour flight from the East Coast. Therefore, teams in the bidding, reportedly the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, and the Phillies, were already at a geographical disadvantage.
So what does this mean for the 2024 Phillies? So far the club has been pretty quiet. Aside from re-signing their own player early in Aaron Nola, the Phillies have not made any moves.
Even after the Yamamoto signing, the Phillies were reportedly still interested in another free-agent starting pitcher.
This seems to indicate two things:
1) The Phillies know they need another starting pitcher. While Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that the Phillies rotation is "set", there are still depth questions about the Phillies rotation. As it stands now, the rotation is Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sanchez.
That might be OK in itself, but last season the Phillies did not want to use Walker or Sanchez in the playoffs, and every starting rotation has an injury at some point. The Phillies have no obvious depth behind Sanchez. Adding another starter makes sense.
2) The Phillies might be pessimistic about their chances to extend Zack Wheeler. The Phillies indicated that they were interested in doing so. It does sound, however, that Wheeler is content in being a free agent next year.
Should Wheeler walk, there is no guarantee of an internal option to replace him, even as Andrew Painter recovers from "Tommy John" surgery and Mick Abel continues to develop.
We are just five or so weeks from pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training. Between now and there, expect to see something happen.