Phillies Free Agency

Source: Phillies meeting with top free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto

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The Phillies were set for a meeting Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles with 25-year-old Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a source told NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

One of the top overall players in this free-agent class, Yamamoto has already met with the Dodgers, Giants, Mets and Yankees and had meetings scheduled with the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

The Phillies, with a filled rotation, have not been viewed as the favorite to sign him. It is assumed that Yamamoto's contract will fall somewhere between $200 million and $300 million, and any team that signs him will also owe a posting fee to his former club, the Orix Buffaloes. The Phillies could afford it, though the true need doesn't exist at this moment. Here's where their payroll stands at the moment.

A caveat: The Phils' ace, Zack Wheeler, is set for free agency after the 2024 season. Early indications have been that Wheeler's side is interested in testing the market. While there isn't currently a hole atop the Phillies' rotation, there could be a year from now if teams come over the top for Wheeler. There's no downside to meeting with Yamamoto, discussing it internally and figuring out whether to make a competitive bid, even if the Dodgers and Yankees have a better chance to ultimately sign him.

Likewise, it can't hurt to give other deep-pocketed National League teams like the Dodgers and the Mets a whiff that you're in the sweepstakes, as well.

Yamamoto, five years younger than Aaron Nola and six years younger than Blake Snell, is regarded as the top remaining free agent. He has been the best pitcher in Japan the last three years with a 1.42 ERA in 558 innings. He would turn the Phillies' rotation into a major strength, though the offers they'd have to beat would come from baseball's most aggressive teams, which all have a more dire need for pitching.

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