In conversation, in comments sections and in the industry itself, it's hard to find anyone who genuinely likes the offseason the Phillies are having. Which leads us to this hypothetical: Would signing Masahiro Tanaka change your whole offseason outlook?
Let's be clear: The Phils are probably not a player for Tanaka, who was finally posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Christmas morning after weeks of defiance from the team over MLB's new posting fee limit of $20 million.
The favorites for the 25-year-old star Japanese right-hander appear to be the deep-pocketed Yankees and internationally savvy Cubs. Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japan Pacific League last season, is viewed as a better starting pitcher than any major-league free agent, including Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.
But on top of the $20 million posting fee, the Phillies or any other team is likely looking at a $100 million contract. The Phils already have three of those.
As Jim Salisbury pointed out earlier in the week, the Phils will obviously do their due diligence on Tanaka. But they probably cannot afford another $20 million pitcher.
After their arbitration cases the Phillies will have about $160-162 million committed and few dollars left to spend. They're more likely to fill out the roster with spring training invitees and bargains.
But this hypothetical about Tanaka is a more general question because, even with Tanaka, the Phils might still not be in the upper echelon of NL teams.
One fact to consider: The Phils reportedly agreed to a six-year deal worth close to $50 million for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but after elbow concerns came to the forefront the deal was shortened to three years, $12 million.
If they were willing to commit all of that money to Gonzalez, might that mean they'd do the same for another international pitcher they feel confident in? Ruben Amaro Jr.'s low-key approach this offseason has seemed equal parts financial constraint and a lack of interest in overpaying anyone. For the right player, maybe they re-open the checkbooks.