We know the Phillies have money to spend.
We know they do their due diligence with most/all notable names on the free-agent and trade markets.
We know that they're enticed by next winter's free-agent class, which includes the big names like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, potentially Clayton Kershaw.
And we know that rarely are there such things as bad one-year deals.
The Phillies have been in touch with the representatives of Yu Darvish and "most high-profile free agents," The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday.
It goes along with the thinking reported here that the Phils would not be interested in a multi-year megadeal for a star but would consider a short-term contract if the player lingers long enough in free agency.
"Unlikely Phils would be high bidder, but if player fell into their range - preferably short-term - they might jump," Rosenthal wrote.
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The Phils have kept tabs on the starting pitching market all winter, just in case (see story).
The Phillies' current projected payroll for 2018 is around $64 million. Even by adding a pitcher like Darvish or Jake Arrieta to a one-year deal worth, say, $25 million, the Phils still wouldn't have an egregiously high payroll. In fact, they'd still have one of the 10 lowest projected payrolls. It would make them a whole lot more competitive in 2018 and perhaps more intriguing to next year's class.
For Darvish or Arrieta, the appeal would be a high one-year salary and the ability to retest free agency in a year, when their value is likely higher. Darvish had an ugly World Series with the Dodgers, while Arrieta had a 3.53 ERA after posting a 2.42 ERA the previous three seasons.
Staying in the NL would make sense for both if they want to reestablish some more value.
There are definitely many ballparks more pitcher-friendly than Citizens Bank Park, but will one of those NL teams with a spacious park have enough money and enough interest in Darvish or Arrieta? The Brewers, for example, have been connected to Darvish but Miller Park is homer-friendly with a great batter's eye.
When the offseason began, there seemed to be a zero-percent chance the Phils ended up with a free-agent ace. The odds are still long, but the more time that goes by, the more likely the starting pitching market gets to a place in which they feel comfortable enough to pounce.