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John Middleton reportedly expresses pessimism about Phillies chances to sign stars this offseason


Update 5:00 p.m. ET: A new report disputes the claims made in the original New York Daily News story, with a correction also being issued to the report itself. Click here to read more.

Original Story

John Middleton and the Philadelphia Phillies may not be prepared to sign anyone, including star catcher J.T. Realmuto, to a large contract this offseason.

According to Bill Madden of The New York Daily News, the Phillies managing partner believes that, considering the money lost during the last year, the team is not in a place to hand out any big contracts this offseason:

“I’m told in an organization meeting last week, Phillies managing partner John Middleton told his baseball people that the club lost nearly $2 billion this year and is not in position to re-sign Realmuto or any other big-ticket free agents.”

The $2 billion figure is disputed by an estimate done by Kaleel Weatherly and Ryan Sharrow of Philadelphia Business Journal last month. This report, which looked at the Phillies annual Team Marketing Report, concluded that the team lost $186.1 million during the 2020 season, which is just a fraction of $2 billion.

J.T. Realmuto has spent two seasons with the Phillies. (Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

In April, Forbes valued the entire organization at $2 billion. Granted, the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on the economy since then, but that estimate was made when the 2020 season had already been delayed. It seems hard to fathom the organization losing $2 billion total since that time.

It will be very difficult for the Phillies to contend in 2021 and beyond if they fail to spend on free agents. While their core of players like Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm is strong, the team has holes throughout the roster that need to be filled in order for the Phillies to win in a competitive division.

The Phillies acquired Realmuto prior to the 2019 season in exchange for a package headed by pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez. Considering the timing and cost of the trade for the catcher, it will be considered a massive failure if the team is unable to retain his services. Middleton reflected on the trade in an exchange with Phillies Nation‘s Tim Kelly in October.

A desire to cut costs would not only affect the on-field product, unfortunately. Madden’s report comes just one day after it was reported that the Phillies laid off over 17 percent of its full-time staff.

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