The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, 325 million dollar contract this offseason, but speaking with Scott Lauber at the Philadelphia Inquirer, John Middleton said the Phillies went for it:

“We pushed hard with Yamamoto,” Middleton said.

How hard? Team officials don’t disclose specifics of contract talks as a matter of course. But after meeting for three hours Dec. 14 with Yamamoto and his agents, and making a presentation that featured a video appearance by Bryce Harper, the Phillies offered more money than any team, according to multiple industry sources.

Context is important here, because Yamamoto did not have interest in signing with the Phillies, and did not meet with them in person. He met with Steve Cohen and the Mets, thought it was always understood that the Dodgers were choice #1. So in Middleton’s case, he can throw out a ridiculous number at the player, and give it a try, or he can sit there and do nothing instead. Doing the former, and not the latter, makes you feel this way:

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d still do what we did because I think you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘You know what? I tried,’ ” Middleton said from his third-floor office at BayCare Ballpark in a wide-ranging, 40-minute interview with The Inquirer. “It’s kind of easy in that situation to say, ‘We’ll just stay home and not even make an effort, or we’ll make a token effort because we’re probably going to wind up losing him.’ I’m not built that way. If he’s really good, you make the effort because you never know when you’ll change somebody’s mind.”

Even if it’s just a formality, you have to throw the Hail Mary. Force your way into the conversation. Tell other people you’re serious about spending and winning and that you aren’t going to resign yourself to defeat without even pitching some of these uber-elite talents. Anthony wrote a story a few months ago about how the Phillies have little history with Japanese players, and that simply being in the conversation is a starting point. It sounds lame in theory, but if Middleton did nothing and made no offer, then what? Wouldn’t that be more lame? Even now, he collects a PR win.

Philadelphia sports fans should be happy with John Middleton’s ambition and pursuit. As a counterpoint, the Union begin their 2024 season tonight, and they’ve spent very little over the years while playing moneyball. Jay Sugarman is just sort of floating by while John Middleton wants his motherfucking trophy back. Point goes to Middleton.