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MLB Trade Rumors projects J.T. Realmuto to sign with division-rival

On the final day of the regular season, Bryce Harper made clear that he expected the Philadelphia Phillies to re-sign J.T. Realmuto this offseason, suggesting that if they didn’t, he could end up on a division-rival.

As it turns out, Harper may have had pretty good instincts in his assessment.

J.T. Realmuto is a free agent. (Ian D’Andrea)

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors released his typically-accurate offseason free agency predictions Monday, and has Realmuto landing with the New York Mets on a five-year/$125 million pact.

Steve Cohen is in the process of taking over as the new owner for the Mets, and there’s widespread speculation that he could look to make a splash in his first offseason at the helm of the team. Signing arguably the most complete player on a division foe away from them would certainly qualify as making a splash, and it would turn a weakness into a strength for the catcher-needy Mets.

Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia has reported that Realmuto isn’t especially keen on playing in New York city, but not to the point that he wouldn’t sign with either the Mets or Yankees if they presented him with the top offer this winter.

At the outset of the offseason, the five-year/$125 million deal that Dierkes is projecting Realmuto to ultimately land feels relatively small when‘s Todd Zolecki has reported that Realmuto could target a deal approaching $200 million. Still, Realmuto will be 30 before the 2021 season begins and owners are pinching pennies with decreased revenues because of COVID-19. Certainly, Realmuto and his agent, Jeff Berry, will begin the offseason seeking a much richer deal than the one Dierkes is projecting he ultimately signs for. But who are we to say that in February or March of 2021 Realmuto won’t ultimately agree to a deal like this?

Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer has previously reported that Realmuto’s camp was targeting an extension similar to the five-year/$130 million deal that Paul Goldschmidt signed with the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2019 season, and this would be right in that neighborhood.

If Realmuto signs a seven or eight-year deal with another team, there will be frustration from Phillies fans, and renewed questioning of why the organization traded former No. 1 prospect Sixto Sánchez for only two guaranteed seasons of his services. Still, there’s yet to be a deal for a catcher that approaches that length and ultimately ages well.

However, if the Phillies are unwilling to meet a five-year deal – especially if another National League East team does – there will be hell to pay with the fanbase. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a five-year/$125 million deal with a catcher will ultimately age well, but it would be hard for the Phillies to paint such a deal as an outlandish contract they simply couldn’t match.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail said Friday that while the organization hasn’t been “able to find anything approaching common ground” with Realmuto’s team to this point, he still remains optimistic about the chances to re-sign the two-time All-Star.

“Yeah, because there are two things that we’ve got going for us. The first is that I think he enjoyed his time here and obviously, we want him back. So I think those two things give you some measure of hope. In any offseason, there are just an amazing amount of variables, you can just multiply that exponentially this offseason. But yeah, as long as the player enjoyed his time here and the team has a legitimate interest in bringing him back, there’s that possibility.”

Presumably, though, coming down to five years and $125 million would represent meeting the Phillies in the middle. It’s hard to imagine Realmuto signing a deal much smaller than that.

The Phillies did extend a one-year/$18.9 million qualifying offer to Realmuto Sunday, which he’ll almost certainly reject. If Realmuto leaves in free agency, the Phillies will recoup draft compensation.


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