Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto got his first bit of disappointing news this offseason Friday evening, as he was edged out by Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for the National League’s Platinum Glove Award.
Oh well. Realmuto will have to settle for an All-Star appearance, Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award in his first season with the Phillies. When the National League MVP is announced on Thursday, Realmuto may very well finish in the top 10.
But for as impressive as Realmuto was in his first season with the Phillies, it was a wholly disappointing season from a team perspective. After one of the best on-paper offseasons in baseball history, the Phillies went just 81-81, which led to the dismissal of manager Gabe Kapler, who has been replaced by Joe Girardi.
Monday, Realmuto acknowledged that 2019 was a frustrating season, but said he’s confident that the Phillies will work to address their needs this winter.
“From my talks that I’ve had with people in the organization, they know we have needs,” Realmuto said Monday on MLB Network Radio. “They’re going to do whatever they can to fix them. That’s the beauty of this organization – they want to win right now and [managing partner] John [Middleton] has made it clear that they want to win and money isn’t going to be an issue for us. If we need guys, we’re going to go out and get them. And if we have to pay for them, we’re going to pay, because we’re in a place right now where we’ve invested a lot into winning and last year was obviously a huge disappointment…there’s a lot of moves we need to make, so I definitely see them being really aggressive this offseason.”
Pitching is obviously the Phillies biggest need, both in terms of starting pitcher and high-end relievers. Houston Astros RHP Gerrit Cole and Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg are the top two free-agent pitchers on the market, but there have already been signs that this offseason isn’t likely to conclude with them in red pinstripes. New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler and Phillies icon Cole Hamels, who is also a free agent this offseason, may be two more realistic targets. It’s unclear if the addition of those two would be enough to push the Phillies over the top in a crowded National League East.
Interestingly, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported Friday evening that the Phillies are among those interested in free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson slugged 37 home runs and posted 15 defensive runs saved for the Atlanta Braves in 2019. Signing the former American League MVP would have a ripple effect on top prospect Alec Bohm and first baseman Rhys Hoskins, but it would certainly fall under the “aggressive” category.
Suffice it to say, general manager Matt Klentak has his work cut out this winter. One of one the easier decisions he should have to make is on the future of Realmuto, who can become a free agent after 2020. Klentak said in September that the Phillies want Realmuto to be with the organization for “a long, long time.”
Realmuto can envision that scenario, but also doesn’t sound afraid to test the free-agent market next offseason if that opportunity presents itself.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I could definitely see a scenario where they come to me and offer me an extension. For me, being this close to free agency is always intriguing as a player, but also if they offer me a deal that’s fair for both sides, and sets up my family for life where we don’t have to worry about anything, I would not be opposed to staying in Philadelphia one bit. I mentioned earlier how well they’ve treated my family and how well they’ve treated me, so it’s definitely a place I could see myself staying.”
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