NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said on Wednesday that the teams with the most successful rebuilds have stuck to their plans.
It is why the Phillies plan to stick to theirs.
It is why they have not been the proverbial "mystery team" this offseason, secretly pursuing a multiyear contract with outfielder Ian Desmond or jumping into the fray to acquire pitchers like Chris Sale or Wade Davis. It is why it is highly improbable the club will trade second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, for a one-year rental like outfielder J.D. Martinez.
They also need to have a place for J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams or Dylan Cozens to play, if they play well enough in Triple-A Lehigh Valley to warrant a promotion.
Once the Phillies learn those things, then they will begin to spend money. And they will have money to spend because they have purposely focused this offseason on acquiring players on one-year contracts, giving them remarkable financial flexibility in the future.
There have been reports that Harper could seek $400 million when he hits the open market. A reporter asked Klentak if he sees value in spending $200, $300 or $400 million on a player.
"I won't put a dollar figure on anything," Klentak said. "Markets develop the way that they develop and player values change over time. But I don't have any doubt that this franchise will make significant investments when the time is right."
But had the Phillies committed $70 million to somebody like Desmond, they would have decreased their ability to learn about Quinn, Altherr, Williams and Cozens. Say they learn one or two of those players are part of the future outfield. They can then allocate their resources elsewhere. And say they had committed $70 million to Desmond. It would be less money to pursue Harper, Machado or Hosmer.
"One of the advantages that we have as a big-market club is that we've been able to take advantage of the past couple of years to trade some key assets to get younger," Klentak said. "Another huge advantage we have is that we have a very dedicated ownership that we know will spend when the time is right. That combination of factors should -- on paper -- put the Phillies in a pretty good spot."
But the only way the Phillies believe they can get to that spot is if they stick to their plan. So far, they have.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.