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Phillies reportedly may let J.T. Realmuto test free agency


Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto met with the media on Zoom Wednesday afternoon, and it didn’t take long for questions about his contractual status to come up. It took even less time for the two-time All-Star catcher to request that he only be asked questions about the 2020 season.

J.T. Realmuto had a dominant first season with the Phillies. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Before changing the subject, Realmuto acknowledged that the Phillies were in “preliminary discussions” with his representatives before COVID-19 hit and no progress has been made since. Still, the 29-year-old catcher was willing to talk about how much he enjoys playing in the organization, giving you the sense that he hopes to remain in red pinstripes beyond the 2020 season.

However, MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki has since reported that while the Phillies have re-engaged with Jeff Barry, Realmuto’s agent, “nothing is close.” Zolecki went on to suggest that “the best bet” is the Phillies will allow Realmuto to reach free agency this offseason, and bid on his services there.

Given how open the Phillies and Realmuto have been about a desire to stay together for the long-run, it is rather startling to think that the club could be one great offer away from losing the reigning Gold Glove Award winner this offseason.

It is very possible that the Phillies feel that by letting Realmuto test free agency, he’ll realize that whatever they are willing to offer him is pretty close to as much as he’ll get. The possible downside, though, is that it would only take one really interested team to come off the top rope and woo Realmuto away. And it’s entirely possible that team could be a division rival, such as the Washington Nationals or New York Mets.

After MLB’s COVID-19-induced transaction freeze concluded, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spoke openly about the position Realmuto is in.

“The landscape we left in March is different from the landscape now,” Klentak said. “We have to see how that manifests itself. We still love the player and want to have him for the long haul. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We need to factor that in.”

Is that uncertainty from the Phillies about their desire to re-sign Realmuto? Probably not. What it likely is, though, is a thought that given baseball’s difficult economic climate in 2020, maybe some potential suitors will be less inclined to bid on Realmuto than they otherwise would have.

In March, Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Realmuto’s camp was targeting an extension similar to the five-year/$130 million deal that the St. Louis Cardinals signed Paul Goldschmidt to last March. If push comes to shove, the guess here is that the Phillies would sign that deal over letting Realmuto walk. However, having Realmuto test free agency allows the Phillies to avoid bidding against themselves. If no other team is willing to offer more than, let’s say, $105 million over five seasons, then the Phillies aren’t going to give Realmuto $130 million just because.

While letting Realmuto test free agency may make some strategic sense, the catcher’s future will hang over the 2020 season. That’s especially true when you consider that Bryce Harper has been outspoken in his desire for the Phillies to re-sign his good friend. Last week, Harper said it would be “terrible and sad” if the Phillies let Realmuto leave. Wednesday, he screamed “Sign him!” after Realmuto hit an opposite-field home run in an intrasquad game. It’s all in good fun now, but there’s little doubt that Harper, under contract through 2031, would be pretty upset if Realmuto isn’t retained.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Larry Quinn

    July 10, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Realmuto is very good, but is he a MAJOR difference maker? No. Is he one-and-a-half times better than, say, Carlos Ruiz or Cameron Rupp? Maybe, but not twice as good. If his salary demands are unreasonable, the Phillies need to say bye-bye and hope that Sixto Sanchez doesn’t become Cy Young. Catchers play 130 games, max.

    • Thiago Feliciano

      July 10, 2020 at 7:26 pm

      Wtf are you talking about ? Do you watch Phillies baseball ? Realmuto is a complete player and has potential to be one of the greats. he deserve it.

    • Willie Mays Hays

      July 11, 2020 at 10:03 am

      ^^^ We found Klentak ^^^

    • Bon Scott

      July 23, 2020 at 3:08 pm

      you are very misguided if you don’t think he is twice as good as Cameron Rupp……LOL

  2. Prickly Pete Salmonella

    July 10, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Disagree. He only costs money and is a hug improvement bot O and D at catcher. They need to sign him because once he hits free agency he’s gonna get paid by someone else.

    • Bon Scott

      July 23, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      I guarantee a top team like the Nats, Yankees or even , god forbid the Mutts get him on the first day

  3. Kenneth Books

    July 11, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Klentak is going to fart around and lose the best catcher in baseball. If that’s the case, we’ll have traded our No. 1 prospect, who everyone compares to Pedro Martinez, and our starting catcher for one year. And Klentak should be tarred and feathered, run out of town on a rail and never be allowed within 100 miles of any professional ballpark again.

    • delmo

      July 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      realmuto is not the required difference maker; Quin is 100% on/any novice knows $ be thrown at chuckers/15-20 game winners/real phil phans knew pronto it was a pathetic stupid deal to dump cheap kid backstop with phooture and kid chucker 4 dude any novice knew was gone after deux yrs cause phoolishphils cannot afford hims/on phun note: robin roberts starts ’55 all star game & curt simmons starts ’56 all star game on old philms avail on internet; enjoy/ simmons has cool bugy whip motion and is nasty; roberts has slow big windup like jim palmer and appears to not throw with much effort or intensity; mantle lost one in first inning shelling/ chris short hammered in ’64 all star game at shea where callison won it in ninth/bunning nasty in ’57 all star game, announcer called bunning sidearm; i disagree as he is obviously using 3/4 type delivery/any team that signs jake and brings back hunter & hoskins needs to go out of business/ very appropriate to have zero phans in stands; with this phront office it needs to be like that all the time please

      • denzen

        July 14, 2020 at 10:31 am

        ?????????????????????????What

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