The Toronto Blue Jays may be the Philadelphia Phillies biggest remaining competition for two-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi hears that after missing out on D.J. LeMahieu – who returned to the New York Yankees on a six-year deal – the Blue Jays “remain in contact” with a trio of free-agents, which includes Realmuto. The other two names that Morosi mentioned are reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and former World Series MVP George Springer, so clearly the Blue Jays are casting a wide net as they attempt to keep pace in the American League East.
It’s unclear who the Blue Jays prefer among those three, and which one might be the most attainable.
From the Phillies perspective, as Phillies Nation‘s Destiny Lugardo pointed out today, Realmuto’s trip into free agency has gone about as well as they could have hoped for. The New York Mets opted to sign James McCann to a four-year deal instead of making an aggressive pursuit for Realmuto, and the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, two other potential suitors, likely dried up today. None of this is to say that the Blue Jays or another team like the Washington Nationals couldn’t ultimately end up signing Realmuto, but no team has come off the top rope with an offer that the Phillies would struggle to match, and there’s no evidence one will.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski met with Realmuto in Oklahoma, his native state, before Christmas, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Dombrowski says that the meeting didn’t include contract negotiations, though as spring training nears, one would think Realmuto and his camp would like to have a resolution in the coming weeks.
If not Realmuto, the Phillies may be forced to turn to Andrew Knapp to be their primary catcher in 2021. Kurt Suzuki signed with the Angels Friday, and it still feels likely that Yadier Molina will ultimately return to the St. Louis Cardinals. Should Realmuto depart, the Phillies will be hard-pressed to find another starting-caliber catcher on the free agent market at this late stage of the offseason.
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