The Phillies aren’t actively engaged in extension talks with star catcher J.T. Realmuto, but he hasn’t foreclosed the possibility of a longer-term relationship. Team owner John Middleton echoed that sentiment in a recent interview with Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Generally, Middleton continued to express great admiration for Realmuto and optimism about contract talks. The strong underlying relationship provides “a great basis to begin a negotiation,” says Middleton, who also said he has no issues with Bryce Harper’s less-than-subtle campaign for a Realmuto deal.
That said, there were strong undercurrents of baseball’s new realities in Middleton’s comments. For one thing, the just-cited quote rather clearly implies that the team believes that negotiations will need to start fresh in the new COVID-19 world we all live in.
Then, there’s the double-edged sword of the sizable new deal between the Dodgers and superstar Mookie Betts. Middleton lauded the “ingenious deal” for its “creativity” and suggested it could indeed be utilized in the Phillies’ case. “There’s no reason why not,” he said.
But the Phils owner also made clear that the Betts contract was in “reality … much less” than its advertised $365MM price. Betts and the Dodgers agreed upon a heavily deferred contract structure to smooth over the coronavirus-driven economic turmoil.
Middleton’s top baseball ops employee, GM Matt Klentak, recently referred to that wide-ranging uncertainty in discussing the team’s interest in a Realmuto deal. And the team owner used precisely the same terminology, explaining that the Betts deal “reflects the reality of the economic uncertainty that we find ourselves in today.”
The overarching message here seems to be that the Phillies see a pathway to a deal, but that it assuredly won’t be the one the Realmuto camp has long proposed. “I don’t feel pressure to make a deal one way or another,” Middleton noted. “I think you have to make a good deal.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s any realistic attempt to forge an agreement before the 2020 season wraps up. No doubt both sides will want to know first whether the campaign is even going to make it through to the postseason, as that’ll be a key revenue generator and major factor in projecting near-future earnings. Though both team and player clearly maintain interest in an ongoing relationship, striking a deal may well require an open-market test.
i think we underestimate Middleton and his desire to win here. i think he’ll lock up Realmuto like he did Harper, and once they get some bad contracts off the books this offseason he’ll probably be willing to jump above the luxury tax a bit.
I really hope you’re right. I may give you a hard time, but you do know your Phils
you’re probably giving me too much credit here to be fair
wild bill tetley
Middleton’s willingness to throw money around shows he does want to win. Desire to win is without question.
Middleton isn’t the problem in the front office…
Contract negotiations for upper and top tier free agents (or to be free agents) are going to be fascinating. We don’t know enough about the virus yet to accurately project what reality is going to be 9 months from now. Will we have an effective vaccine? Will people take it? How about effective treatments? Free agent contracts are basically back loaded in the sense that teams are overpaying in the later years to get prime performance in the earlier ones. Losing an earlier season (or a substantial part of one) skews that by moving the median season to later in the contract, Let’s see how the market prices in risk.
Even when, not if, the Phillies resign him it’s kinda shocking they just wouldn’t already because he’s that good. Gotta be penny-pinching and/or trying to keep him around 4-5 years max when he clearly wants more. Arrieta, Gregorious, and Bruce total $52M this season and are likely gone afterwards so they shouldn’t question a top 5 catcher. All catchers deteriorate in their 30s and realistically I think the Phillies are considering all options on a team trying to maximize growth. They’re honestly not ready to be clear favorites for a World Series this year or next so maybe they don’t keep Realmuto at all and keep trying to build.. Or save money and trade for Arenado.
What makes you so sure they’ll get him?
Jim, because I’m JT Realmuto… and Yanks I could see that but in reality I would pay $35M a year to Arenado till he’s 35 vs. $20M a year to Realmuto for an age 30-36 catcher.. That is considering you get Arenado for relatively cheap prospects and he agrees to those option years. Or because it’s a dreamworld, maybe the Phillies trade Realmuto by the deadline to Colorado square up and trade for a catcher after. The Phillies wanna spend money in the short and long-term but it could be anywhere they just don’t wanna be locked up on players
While Realmuto may be the top current catcher, he surely is not some transcendent talent that deserves to be highest paid catcher ever. If he’s looking to “break the bank” with his deal then the Phillies would be wise to pass. History is not kind to 30 year old catchers receiving long deals and while his bat is decent for a catcher, it is not nearly good enough for any other position he may move to (1B or DH).
Phillies got to keep him in Philly. I know the Mets are lurking. And are willing to pay him big money if he ever hits free agency. Especially with new ownership on the horizon
what might save this though is the bad taste over the last big C signing by the team. sure, new ownership and JT is by no means Wilson Ramos, but there is a possibility the team prioritizes pitching with so many SP set to be free agents. Willson Contreras would be another potential splash. is that wishfull thinking? yes, but i just dont see new ownership caring too much about screwing the Phillies over year one. it sounds great, but with so many potential names that could be in charge, i dont know if all of them follow that line of reasoning.
Based on the fact that extension talks never gained much traction even before COVID, I think PHI will not make him an offer until after he’s a free agent this winter. I think Klentak and Middleton have already agreed to let Realmuto’s market develop and then decide if they want to go there instead of overpaying him now. The risk is that a team like the Mets skews the market and offers a mega deal.
Why is that a risk? Let the Mets saddle themselves with a six year deal for a30 year old catcher. The giants are still paying that debt on buster posey.
Realmuto is arguably the best catcher in the game. Good offense also. Mets were going to give up Syndergaard for him in a 3 way deal last season for him. That’s how high they are on him. They will likely pay top dollar for him for 5 seasons with an option for a 6th year.
I ABSOLUTELY agree. He’s gonna be a Met because the Phillies are run by a moron.
If my boss was amazed at someone else’s creativity and ingenuity for the same job that I do, I’d get my resume ready. Matt Klentak is a stiff. He ranks as one of the all time idiots GMs that the Phillies have ever had. He sucks at talent evaluation. The minor league system is in shambles. He hired Gabe Kepler … and didn’t want to get rid of him. The owner had to step in and make the decision. The current group of homegrown talent can’t hit. Hoskins looks at perfect strikes down the middle. WalksWalks too much and strikes out too much. Kingery is a complete loss. All he does is pop up the ball every at bat. Don’t even get me going about the AA level bullpen. They don’t have anyone getting better. Just getting worse.
Translation: “We aren’t paying him and are prepared to lose him. We hope you like Knapp.”
Darkside may be overly optimistic about a prospective JT signing given the Met’s need for a quality catcher. Does intra division competition for JT’s services affect Middleton’s calculus? It must! But Middleton sounds really burned in the Salsbury interview published this morning.
The current President of the club, MacPhail, remains silent and
it seems obvious that he has responsibility as the “baseball” guy for not having placed the best evaluators of talent in place as well as taking charge of the JT negotiations at the right moment to extend him using the Betts formula or whatever was necessary for the club! to accomplish such an important task. He didn’t Why does he remain? If I were Harper and other important parts of the team going forward, I would be concerned about what Middleton is up to. The team needs another Starter, two effective bullpen pieces with higher velocity
stuff and to keep JT, without any doubt. Now what John, you want to take your marbles and go home? You were there too this year. Nothing prevented you from communicating with Andy and Matt and saying “I’m dissatisfied”. In hindsight, the poor decision to acquire these plug-in relievers from Boston was classic Phillies’ stupidity. The bullpen needed fixing much earlier with real effective talent. There were at least 6 available relievers about to hit free agency. Again, Andy where were you? Pat Gillick is still on the payroll. Where was he to sound the alarm? Middleton’s comments this morning are logical from a business point of view. They are absurd, however, as to their timing and frankly “pass the buck” lament. As a fan all of this comes down to several irresponsible folks sleeping at the switch. Imagine 200 million plus involved and the owner is NOW figuring all of this out.
John, get rid of Andy immediately. Let some of your payroll go now. Put someone in place who you can implicitly trust and demonstrate that YOUR judgment is sound; business and baseball wise… as you wear both hats, like it or not. Didi and JT must be signed and go from there. Other teams are salivating to grab them. Otherwise, you are left with a carcass of a team needing another 3-5 years to become competitive. This is not insurmountable. Your appointees are not helping. They don’t give you enough confidence that they know what to do. By next Spring with a new Administration in place the country will be solving our virus problem. Will that assure that fans will be in the seats? Who knows but the players contracts must reflect the shared economic burden of no fans. .