Bryce Harper sends clear message to the front office about Realmuto’s future in Philadelphia

To say Sunday was a disappointing day for the Philadelphia Phillies franchise is putting it lightly.

All they needed was a victory against the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2011. Everything out of their control went their way. The same cannot be said for what was in their control.

Bryce Harper has made it clear: he wants to play alongside J.T. Realmuto for years to come. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

What follows in the next few months is a slew of questions. One of those questions is who will be the Opening Day catcher.

With J.T. Realmuto’s free agency looming, Bryce Harper made his preference for who he wants behind the plate clear.

“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year,” Harper said after Sunday’s game. “Plain and simple. He’s the best catcher in baseball. He’s the best hitting catcher in baseball. Our guys love to throw to him.”

Speaking of guys who throw to him, Aaron Nola uttered a similar sentiment. He first spoke about the importance of chemistry between a catcher and pitching staff. Realmuto has that and it’s not something the Phillies would want to mess with.

“For a pitching staff to have the same catcher for multiple years, it’s important,” Nola said. “It’s tough to change a different catcher every single year or every other year. If you have the same guy, you form the relationship with them, they form the relationship with all of the starting staff and the relievers. The chemistry is there and we’ll see what happens.”

All things considered, would Nola like to have Realmuto back?

“I don’t make the decision, but I know we all want him around.”

Nola’s answer was on par with Harper’s, albeit a lot more subtle.

From yelling “Sign him!” in an intrasquad game to writing a signature on an air check after a Realmuto home run, Harper has not been shy about sending messages to the front office. He even mentioned how the competition for Realmuto’s signature could come from within the division.

“Anybody that is the best at their position — hitting and fielding — needs to be signed,” Harper said. “And that is J.T. Realmuto. I don’t think that should even be a question or anything because there’s going to be two or three teams out in the NL East that are going to go out for that guy. If that happens, that’s going to be tough. Tough to swallow for us.”

The New York Mets are expected to be one of Realmuto’s top suitors. They had one of the worst fielding catchers in the league in Wilson Ramos behind the plate this season and new owner Steve Cohen will look to make a big splash in his first year in charge. The Washington Nationals could also be in on Realmuto.

It’s extremely unlikely Matt Klentak will have the chance to sign Realmuto considering the Phillies are not among the 16 best teams in baseball despite carrying the sixth-highest payroll. Harper was asked if he’d like to see his GM back next year.

“I’m not an owner. I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.”


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