|Cuban Yasmany Tomas signed with Arizona Diamondbacks|
The Philadelphia Phillies, considered the front-runners in many media circles for months, did not lose out in the bidding process for the services of young Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas.
The player’s agent, Jay Alou, said that the Phillies never even made a formal offer to his client. “The player wanted to sign” according to Alou, who believed that GM Ruben Amaro’s “hands were tied” by a necessity to clear salary space, as reported by Philly.com reporter Matt Gelb.
With home attendance down and a publicly stated rebuilding program begun, the likelihood is that 2015 will bring even further declines to the Phillies revenues. A new deal with Comcast cable is in place, but does not begin infusing extra cash into the team coffers until 2016.
In a publicly released video yesterday, Assistant GM Scott Proefrock briefly discussed the club’s strategy when shopping for free agents. “We target guys, and plan a strategy. Especially when you know you’re competing with other clubs for particular players. We do an analysis. Try to figure out what other teams needs are, figure out who we might be competing against. What the depth of a particular position is, and what our fallback position would be if we don’t sign our top guy.”
There was significant competition for Tomas, with the Arizona Diamondbacks finally signing the outfielder to a reported 6-year, $68 million deal on Thanksgiving Eve last week. That was apparently too high a price under the Phillies current overall limitations. Now it’s unclear what the fallback position might be.
In the Tomas hunt, Gelb reported that GM Ruben Amaro reiterated a previous public statement, that “there haven’t been any impediments by our ownership group” that would financially tied his hands in trying to improve the club for 2015.
Despite that proclamation, the decline in short-term revenues, the publicly stated desire to shed veteran players and their contracts, and the realities of other teams who will be contending and are willing to spend money to that end, combine to paint a bleak picture for the team’s die-hard fans over the next couple of seasons.
Going forward, we can expect the team to get more active in its attempts to unload veteran stars for prospect packages. The free agent market should begin to really crystalize in the next week or two. Once some of the top available players do sign, teams left without a seat in the financial musical chairs game may find the Phils resources a bit more attractive.