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December 18, 2023

MLB Rumors: Bryce Harper pitches in as Phillies pursue Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Can the Phillies really make Yoshinobu Yamamoto an offer he can't refuse?

Bryce Harper may not be the Phillies' GM, but assistant GM could be part his job title (in addition to All-Star, 2-time MVP and face of the Phillies franchise).

A few years after leading the charge to help the Phillies bring in J.T. Realmuto and retain him longterm and after all of the other recruiting he's done to help Dave Dombrowski and company build a contender in the National League, the Phils first baseman apparently seems pretty motivated to help the team woo free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto — a superstar starting pitcher in Japan. He's the best free agent left on the market and the Phillies seem to be in serious pursuit.

They met with him last week and Harper was a part of their "pitch."

The Yankees and Dodgers are thought to be the top contenders for Yamamoto — mostly because they have endless war chests. The Phillies will likely need to break the bank for the 25-year-old hurler, who is expected to net at least $300 million in a potential deal.

The Phils already have a loaded rotation, which would boast a starting five of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker and Cris Sanchez, if the season started tomorrow. That's the same rotation they had to end the 2023 season, which saw them blow two series leads in the NLCS. 

Wheeler has one year left on his deal and will be a free agent after 2024 if an extension isn't signed. The Phillies are well over the luxury tax already. Will that allow them to shrug off a hefty tax penalty and keep spending? Or will it hinder their ability to offer the same amount of money the big boys in LA and NYC will likely offer?

Yamamoto is expected to make his decision soon.

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