MLB Insider names Phillies as a suitor in the race for a coveted Japanese starter

Hanshin Tigers v Orix Buffaloes
Hanshin Tigers v Orix Buffaloes / Sports Nippon/GettyImages

Since Shohei Ohtani finally made the decision to sign with the Dodgers on Sunday, attention has now turned to the offseason's second-hottest commodity: Yoshinobu Yamamoto. A lot of the noise has centered around the Yankees and Mets, given the public lengths Brian Cashman and Steve Cohen have been going to in order to secure him, but The New York Post's Jon Heyman just connected none other than the Philadelphia Phillies to the Yamamoto race for the first time since interest started to mount in the United States.

This morning, the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Red Sox, and Blue Jays were all mentioned in a Mark Feinsand tweet regarding Yamamoto, along with one or two unnamed teams. Heyman's follow-up, which mostly had to do with the Yankees' pursuit, casually threw out the Phillies as one of those unnamed contenders.

MLB Insider connects Phillies to Yoshinobu Yamamoto for the first time this offseason

Other baseball reporters have yet to jump in to corroborate Heyman's mention of the Phillies, but Philadelphia being in the race isn't necessarily a stretch of the imagination, given their deep pockets penchant for big contracts. During the few months of this offseason, the Phillies' roster has more or less stayed exactly the way it was at the end of the 2023 season; their biggest move so far has been resigning Aaron Nola, which is great for the team but doesn't exactly move the needle in one way or the other.

The Phillies do have the luxury of a strong, locked-in offensive core, so they came into the offseason not needing to concern themselves much with the state of their lineup, especially after letting Rhys Hoskins go to clear up any confusion about who would play first base next year. However, the rotation, like pretty much every other rotation in baseball, could use another arm. Zack Wheeler, Nola, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suarez put the Phillies in a good position already; if they could secure Yamamoto, they could have one of the most solid pitching set ups in baseball.

It's likely that the Phillies could be a sleeping giant this offseason if their attentions and checkbook are set on Yamamoto. Although they are facing fierce competition from not only division rivals but a team who have something to prove after Ohtani signed and another who just improved their lineup tenfold with a blockbuster trade. If the Phillies really are in on this race and succeed in securing him, they would be even more formidable than they already are.

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