CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Don't let anybody fool you. Even after the Phillies made multiple offseason moves to put them into the National League East-title mix, even as Phillies pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout Wednesday at Carpenter Complex, everybody here is just as interested as you are about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
How can they not be?
Harper or Machado could cap an exciting offseason for the Phillies, who hope to snap a seven-year postseason drought in 2019. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections have the Phillies as an 86-win team, following offseason acquisitions that include J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and David Robertson. The Nationals (89) and Mets (88) are ranked above the Phillies. The Braves (85) are ranked below.
Place Harper or Machado into the fold, and the Phillies' win expectancy could jump ahead of the Nationals.
"I've been down here for 48 hours, not even," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field. "When I see the guys in the clubhouse, sometimes that comes up."
Harper and Machado remain the No. 1 topics in the baseball world.
They will remain the No. 1 topic in Phillies camp until both players sign.
But even without one of the two superstars signed to a contract, there is excitement building in Clearwater. Part of that is because the Phillies made improvements in the offseason. Part of that is because they believe their young core will take another step forward. Part of that, of course, is because they believe the front office has at least one more move to make.
"We're always looking for opportunities," Klentak said. "There are certainly times of the year when there seems to be more activity. The offseason being one, the Trade Deadline being another. But we know there are some pretty good free agents out there, and we're going to continue to have those discussions, because if there's an opportunity that makes sense for us we'd like to pursue it."
There is no question Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will be asked about those superstar fantasies following Wednesday's workout. Phillies president Andy MacPhail is scheduled to meet with reporters on Thursday. Klentak will take questions Friday.
Hey, there could be worse questions to answer.
The Phillies could be talking about the beginning of a long rebuild. Instead, they are talking about winning and playing postseason baseball for the first time since 2011.