Via Paul Hoynes at the Plain Dealer is a story in the Korea Times in which Shin-Soo Choo is quoted as saying “if I could move to a better team, I could generate a better record and improve more.”
Seeing as though Choo is only in his first year of arbitration eligibility with the Indians, such sentiments are a bit premature. They’re also the sort of thing that usually causes controversy. For what it’s worth, however, Indians GM Chris Antonetti is blowing it off, saying that he met with Choo just before the end of the season and
talked to him again on the phone when he returned home to Arizona:
“During those conversations, Choo expressed his passion for winning in
Cleveland,” said Antonetti. “I will rely on what Choo told me directly
rather than translated comments through a third party.”
Stuff gets lost in translation, so that’s probably the right tack to take. Even if what Choo is quoted as saying is true. And even if what Choo is quoted as saying is what he actually said.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.