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.
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.