As the Philadelphia Phillies keep a steady eye on a slow-to-evolve free agent market this December, the entire baseball world is currently on Yoshinobu Yamamoto watch as the Japanese star pitcher mulls offers from MLB ball clubs still thought to be in the mix for the 25-year-old ace.
One person who has already signed a contract this offseason is Phillies skipper Rob Thomson. Thomson, who's entering his third season as manager was rewarded at the MLB Winter Meetings with a contract extension that will keep him at the top of the dugout steps for the Phillies through the 2025 season.
Thomson was recently a guest on the Foul Territory podcast and spoke highly of Phillies team owner John Middleton and the baseball operation department's commitment to fielding a competitive ball club each season. Thomson emphasized the Phillies willingness to spend in order to land highly coveted free agents
During a mostly loose conversation with Scott Braun, Erik Kratz, and A.J. Pierzynski about all things baseball and Philadelphia Phillies related, Thomson elaborated on how managing a team with a high payroll and elite players is a privilege not lost on him.
"I'm glad at where I'm at right now," Thomson said. "I can tell you that because Mr. Middleton wants to win, and he's willing to spend the money, within reason. I mean, he's not silly, that's for sure."
Digging into that statement, Thomson was quick to point out that spending money on payroll is something the organization is willing to do, but not just to generate headlines and overload the team with top-heavy financial commitments.
Seizing on an opportunity to gain knowledge of where the Phillies stood in its pursuit of Shohei Ohtani earlier this offseason, Kratz's follow-up question sought to gauge how far the Phillies were willing to go to land the once-in-a-generation two-way talent.
"Did you guys talk to Shohei Ohtani?" Kratz asked. "Was he [Middleton] that kind of silly?"
"Not that I know of," Thomson said. "And even if I did, I couldn't tell you that."
How far the Phillies got in any conversations remains a mystery, but it was clear Thomson wasn't going to give up that kind of information during a podcast appearance. Not with the Phillies still reportedly still one of the teams considered a potential landing spot for Yamamoto.
Will Middleton spend his money on Yoshinobu Yamamoto?
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey, a baseball insider who spoke off the record with Coffey said the Phillies are planning to be "aggressive" in their pursuit of Yamamoto. While we currently don't know where the financial terms of the Phillies offer stands in years and salary, it's been reported elsewhere that some teams could be willing to spend $300 million to secure his services.
What we do know is that Yamamoto and his representatives met with the Phillies front office last week and that he had a FaceTime conversation with Phillies star Bryce Harper. How effective all of this was in landing Yamamoto is still unknown.
But with the Phillies still seemingly in the conversation and willing to spend to win, there's still hope the ace could land in Philadelphia this offseason.