The Phillies have finally answered one of their biggest questions this offseason with the hiring of Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski, who is the team’s first-ever president of baseball operations, will soon get ready to tackle all the other big questions.
The biggest one of them all is whether or not star catcher J.T. Realmuto will be back. Dombrowski was prepared to address this in his first news conference as a member of the organization.
“Everybody in the organization loves J.T. [Realmuto],” Dombrowski said. “That’s anybody I talked to. I think there is a unanimous feeling they’d like to bring him back.”
Dombrowski should play a big role in the negotiations but the decision to bring back Realmuto boils down to how much ownership is willing to pay to bring him back. The Phillies president of baseball operations indicated that the payroll is not expected to be around what it was last year.
“There’s flexibility to do things, but I think we’ll look at each and every move in an intelligent fashion and if something makes sense, we’ll react to them. But I don’t by any means come in here and think we have an unlimited amount to spend,” Dombrowski said.
Per Jonny Heller of Phillies Nation, the team has around $54 million in room left from their payroll in 2020. We don’t know for sure how much the Phillies are willing to spend on their roster as Dombrowski did not specify what the budget actually is for next season. A 10 percent cut in the budget means the Phillies will have around $34 million to spend in 2021. It’s more than enough to sign Realmuto but how much would be left to sign a No. 4 starter, middle infielder, or a late-inning bullpen arm?
At the very least, it seems like the Mets are just about out on Realmuto. Multiple reports indicate that James McCann and the Mets are close to a deal but not quite there yet. That would mean Realmuto’s most-likely suitor is out of the race. The Phillies could have to compete with teams such as the Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels for Realmuto’s signature but it’s fair to wonder whether any of those teams are major players.
But the Phillies themselves seem to be their biggest obstacle in the way of Realmuto playing in red pinstripes in 2021 and beyond. For fans, it’s assuring to hear that Dombrowski is aware that everyone in the organization is on the same page regarding their desire to retain Realmuto. It’ll be up to Middleton and the Phillies ownership group to make that desire a reality.
“Now those things are never easy,” Dombrowski said on Realmuto. “A lot of us have dealt with free-agent markets in the past but that feeling is mutual from John down through the rest of the staff so there is some flexibility to make moves there. But again, can you get something like that done? I’m not really sure.”
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