“The self-assessment is important,” Agostinelli said. “I have done this for a very long time and the way everyone does it has changed. You’re looking at guys who are at a very young age. People are making earlier and earlier decisions on players. It’s hard. The bottom line is, guys are going in and seeing guys early and they (already) have a verbal agreement. Everybody is fighting over the same players. We all try to see the guys first — we have done a good job of identifying the right ones. But sometimes, a team gets a guy, and you have to give them kudos.“
What I infer from this quote - admittedly speculative - is that Agostinelli wants to get multiple looks at kids before committing big dollars because scouting 13/14 year old kids is hard, but that the process has changed with teams committing to players on limited looks and getting the verbal agreement. Ultimately that Sal is still Sal and very capable, but he’s been struggling with the new level of risk teams are willing to take and that’s what is preventing the Phillies from the kind of success they saw in LA before the last 10 years or so.
The risks teams are taking, by the way, makes sense to me because if you invest $4m in the best players you see 4 years in a row, for example, and three of them flop and one is Acuna/Soto/Devers, or a couple of them are even Cesar Hernandez, that $16m is a bargain compared to what it costs in the FA market or the cost in players to trade).