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Tommy Joseph almost went to Asia

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At least someone wanted the guy...

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a story that makes almost too much sense:

NBC Sports Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury reported today that Tommy Joseph...ahem...LEFT FIELDER Tommy Joseph was garnering a lot of interest from teams in Korean and Japan this offseason. How far down the road did a possible deal get done? From the report:

What won’t happen — not now, at least — is him playing in Asia. There was serious interest in Joseph from teams in Japan and Korea this winter. Joseph spoke with former Phillie Darin Ruf, who is entering his second season in Korea, to get his opinion on the experience.

One could guess that it got serious enough that Joseph would put in a phone call to former Phillies legend Darin Ruf to gather his thoughts on the move. However, as Joseph himself states:

“You never want to give up the opportunity to play in the major leagues,” Joseph said. “Darin loves it over there. His family loves it. He recommended I go.

“But I want a chance to be here and play in the big leagues.”

Listen, a move of this type almost makes too much sense not to happen. Most of the attention this offseason has been on the top of the market and the glacial pace at which it moved. As we head into March, we can look at MLB Trade Rumors’ Top 50 free agents and see that five of their top eleven free agents are still unemployed. That’s rough enough, but older position players have had it much rougher trying to get a deal. When you see a player like Logan Morrison only getting $6.5 million for one year after swatting 38 home runs, you know that the trade market for a player like Joseph would be limited. We also knew that with Rhys Hoskins around, Joseph probably was aware his playing time would be almost non-existent. Then Carlos Santana signed and Joseph probably threw his hands in the air, knowing he’d more or less been squeezed out of a spot on the 25-man roster altogether. That meant if he wanted regular at bats, he’d have to go to the minor leagues or ask to move to Asia.

It’s not fair to comment on whether or not Joseph should be going to the Far East. While he seems like the perfect candidate to head to those leagues, we don’t know what the organization’s plan is for him headed into the season. With Tuesday’s left field experiment kind of shocking a lot of people, there looks to be at least the whiff of a idea to try and keep him with the team somehow. This could be your usual spring training experimentation exercise, but from the outside, we can only speculate. Maybe the team is waiting for that devastating spring injury to happen, so that they can then market Joseph as a cheap alternative, made all the more attractive by the fact he still has a minor league option available.

His could be one of the greatest “what ifs” in team history when it comes to his career. Had it not been derailed somewhat by concussions, one has to wonder if he could have remained a somewhat competent option behind the plate. The ability to don the tools of ignorance four to five times a week and display at least a below average glove, while having 25+ home run power, is something a lot of teams would find very attractive. Instead, in this era of juiced balls and newer swing planes, Joseph’s one attractive skill just isn’t as valuable as it once was. Whatever happens, here’s hoping that Joseph finally finds a regular job, whether it be in the majors or across the Pacific.