The Yoshinobu Yamamoto sweepstakes keep ratcheting up, with the coveted free agent pitcher from Japan's tour through the States starting to resemble more and more of a circus. The Philadelphia Phillies are a part of the chase to land the biggest free agent not named Shohei Ohtani, even though many don't seem to believe they are serious contenders.
But, the Phillies are still one of the seven teams in the running for the right-hander — as far as we know at this time. A new report from MLB Network's Jon Morosi on Monday gave us a small peak behind what has otherwise been an iron curtain around president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld's offseason adventures.
According to Morosi, Bryce Harper spoke with Yamamoto via FaceTime during the Phillies' presentation in Los Angeles last week.
What exactly did this digital face-to-face accomplish? Who knows. On the surface it doesn't seem as impactful as some of the other presentations we've heard about.
We're not saying it's a nothing burger having the two-time NL MVP take time out of his day, even if not in person, to sell the team and the city. Plus, Yamamoto was already familiar with Harper, who was reportedly part of the Phillies' initial pitch before this most recent slate of meetings.
But as of writing, there's no word on whether the Phillies have made an offer or received a promise of a second audience with Yamamoto while he's on the East Coast.
Did Harper at least give the Phillies a chance in Yamamoto sweepstakes?
From all indications, the Phillies are a small fish in this fight with the behemoths of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. Even the New York Mets are pushing hard after the much-publicized Saturday night dinner at owner Steve Cohen's house.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Sunday that Yamamoto requested a sudden second meeting with the Yankees, who are somewhat optimistic about their chances, according to sources from Andy Martino of SNY.
So how much of a dent did Harper's pitch put in the armor of the Dodgers and Yankees, not to mention the division rival Mets?
Compared to Yamamoto's in-person rendezvous with his fellow countryman Ohtani, who is trying to sway his Team Japan teammate to sign with the Dodgers, probably not enough to move the needle toward Philadelphia.
And probably not enough to compare to the draw of the Yankees franchise, as the New York Post's Mike Puma elaborates: "But it’s also thought Yamamoto craves the spotlight and could be sold on the idea of trying to restore the Yankees’ championship pedigree."
The pessimist will say, "Not much, there's no chance he signs in Philly!" while the optimist will say, "It's Bryce Harper, we can always hope!"
The truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in between those statements, but probably closer to the pessimist's take on the situation.
While the Sunday meeting with the Yankees seems like a good omen for the Bronx Bombers, we have no idea what the meeting was about or what's happening in Yamamoto's camp. Martino writes that team officials from every team involved are in the dark about his intentions.
We'll know for sure before Jan. 4, Yamamoto's deadline to decide, and most likely sooner.