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Phillies Targeting Next Japanese Superstar After Beefing Up Operations

The Philadelphia Phillies hope they can land the next elite Japanese player after putting a larger focus on their overseas operations.

Despite their best efforts, including offering the most money out of any other team, the Philadelphia Phillies ultimately were not able to land Japanese pitching phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason.

It wasn't shocking to anyone within the organization.

They haven't had a Japanese player since 2008 and were not remotely close in the original Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes when he was deciding who his first Major League Baseball team would be.

But, the contract discussions with Yamamoto hopefully make them much more attractive to the next crop of talent.

One thing that might help is getting a visit from legend Hideki Kuriyama who managed Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and is a mentor to many of their best players, including Ohtani.

Kuriyama met different members of the Phillies as he continues his visit of different big league camps around Florida and Arizona in his role of chief baseball executive for Nippon.

Under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Philadelphia has ramped up their operations in Japan with hopes that they can become more attractive to players looking to come to the United States.

"As an organization, we want to put our best foot forward and put ourselves in a spot to land some of that premium talent that exists there ... It's increased presence. It's putting ourselves in a position to evaluate the best that we possibly can," general manager Sam Fuld said according to Todd Zolecki of

Beyond that, being a recognizable team also goes a long way.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are the most well-known and popular teams in Japan, one of the main reasons why those two franchises are at the top of the list to land any prominent international free agent.

The Phillies can do whatever they can to scout talent, but if they can't convince someone to sign with them, then it truly doesn't matter what their operations look like.

However, they believe this team can become a household name overseas.

"We have such a dynamic team that is objectively fun to watch. I think that helps grow what could be a potential fan base in Japan and increase our presence and our recognition over there ... We have a lot of dynamic, star players that has allowed us to become more recognizable across the globe," Fuld added.

The money that owner John Middleton has spent to assemble this roster to chase a World Series championship might help in the long run as well as the short-term.

"Obviously, the Yankees and Dodgers are the best-known teams in Japan. But the Phillies are also a well-known team at this time," Kuriyama told reporters during his visit at their camp.

If that's the case, Philadelphia might be putting themselves in position to land the next Ohtani and Yamamoto whenever those future players are ready to compete in Major League Baseball.