Ryan Garko leaves MLB, signs with Korean team for $300,000

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Ryan Garko spent 2007-2009 as a starting first baseman for the Indians and Giants, but played most of this season at Triple-A after being claimed off waivers by the Rangers.

And now he’s headed to Korea.

Apparently unable to land a major-league deal as even a part-time player, Garko has signed with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to the Korea Herald he’ll make a base salary of $250,000 and also gets a $50,000 signing bonus, so Garko will make about 75 percent of the MLB minimum.

Garko is a 29-year-old career .274/.347/.434 hitter who has always fared well against left-handed pitching, but when you’re a defensively challenged first baseman without a ton of power the jobs dry up in a hurry.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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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.

How novel.