Jake Arrieta and Bryce Harper have quite a lot in common.
Both won the top individual award in their craft a half-decade ago, with Arrieta winning the 2015 Cy Young Award and Harper winning MVP. Both are represented by super-agent Scott Boras and came into their free agency years looking for a massive contract. Both happened to have signed a deal with the Phillies for less than what they had expected to get heading into the offseason.
They share a clubhouse with the best catcher in baseball and in a few months, it’ll be his turn to cash in his valuable skill set and track record into nine figures.
The two have some insight on the process, so naturally, reporters will direct a few questions about Realmuto to Arrieta and Harper.
The former World Series champion knows when it comes to free agency, different scenarios have to be discussed with family. He had those conversations with his wife Brittany a few years ago and Realmuto is doing the same with his wife Lexi. But in the end, Arrieta believes Realmuto’s main focus is on the team and his performance once the first pitch is thrown.
“We start games Friday,” Arrieta told the media via Zoom. “I know that he doesn’t want any outside distractions to get in the way of his preparation and the team’s preparation. He is a very selfless guy.
“The last thing he wants is for all that stuff to be flying around the clubhouse. I would expect him to probably put an end to some of that chatter so we can focus on games.”
Putting an end to that discussion most likely comes in the form of Realmuto deflecting any questions about the contract and showing his teammates that his only concern at the present moment is the 2020 season. For now, it seems unlikely the two sides will come to an agreement during the season.
Then again, not a lot of people expected Mookie Betts to sign a 12-year, $365 million extension with the Dodgers before Opening Day. The belief that top free agents won’t be able to get their money is all but gone and that works in Realmuto’s favor. It’s probably best for the Oklahoma native to wait until free agency and even his biggest supporter recgonizes that.
“I think we’re 60 days away from him getting to free agency and so forth,” Harper said. “I think J.T. is going to do what’s best for his family, what’s best for himself, and hopefully that’s him coming back to Philly and getting the deal done. I think he’s the best catcher in baseball.
“I think he’s a great player and a great individual that we need in our clubhouse as a leader and as a person. Hopefully, we can get that deal done and he can be in pinstripes for the rest of his career.”
Harper has been spotted wearing a Realmuto shirsey during workouts and even yelled “Sign him!” after the catcher hit a home run during an intrasquad game. The two players recognize that it’s all in good fun, but in all seriousness, Harper believes that everyone in the organization from the top-down understands just how important it is for the Phillies to re-sign Realmuto. He even mentioned how his contract is set-up so the team can adequately build around him with top players such as Realmuto.
“I just think he’d help us as an organization,” Harper said. “And that’s it, plain and simple. I think (Matt) Klentak knows that. I think John (Middleton) knows that. I think a lot of guys in this organization know that. I just want to be able to set this organization up in the long-term and try to win as many games to get back to the good days of ’08 and ’09 and winning a World Series.”
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