Don’t pencil J.T. Realmuto into the Philadelphia Phillies 2021 lineup just yet.
Though all indications are that things are trending in a positive direction for the Phillies, they aren’t entirely unopposed in their attempt to re-sign Realmuto.
Friday, MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi reported that the Toronto Blue Jays, after losing out on DJ LeMahieu, were still “in contact” with Realmuto, along with reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and 2017 World Series MVP George Springer.
Today, Morosi further updated where Realmuto’s market stands, writing that “one source familiar with the catching market said Friday that the Blue Jays and Phillies are the strongest candidates to sign Realmuto.”
Any early-offseason thought that the Phillies may entirely bow out of the sweepstakes for Realmuto was squashed Friday when Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported that the Phillies have extended a five-year offer to Realmuto, believed to be worth “slightly north” of $100 million.
When you consider that MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki reported that “Realmuto had been seeking a contract in excess of $200 million” at one stage, it’s hardly a guarantee that his camp thinks this latest offer is as reasonable as much of the public does.
That said, it appears pretty certain that whatever deal Realmuto eventually signs will be closer in total value to $100 million than $200 million.
You do really wonder if Realmuto’s camp being so aggressive in their asking price at the outset of the offseason ultimately will cost him some money. The New York Mets, who many thought would be an aggressive suitor for Realmuto, pivoted early in the offseason and instead signed James McCann to a four-year deal in mid-December. Since then, no team other than the Phillies, as far as we can tell, has made Realmuto their No. 1 priority.
Perhaps the Blue Jays will ultimately be that team, though Morosi also notes that they are “viewed within the industry as a strong contender to sign Bauer.” Even if Bauer goes elsewhere and the Blue Jays – clearly eager to make a major transaction this winter – pivot to Realmuto, how much higher would they be willing to go than the Phillies already have?
Realmuto is the best catcher in the sport, but he’ll also turn 30 before the 2021 season begins, so there’s a very real chance he’s at the back-half of his peak. Whether it was driven by Realmuto himself or his agent, Jeff Berry, the inability to recognize that teams would have a ceiling for how much they would be willing to offer a veteran catcher may drive Realmuto back to Philadelphia.
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