The final qualifying offer decisions are in, as both George Springer of the Astros and J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies have declined their qualifying offers, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). The Astros and Phillies will receive compensatory draft picks if/when they sign with another club. The final tally has four players declining (Springer, Realmuto, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Bauer) and two accepting their qualifying offer (Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman).
Realmuto, 30 next season, will be the top catcher on the free agent market by a wide margin. His power and athleticism is unmatched behind the plate, and he’s faster than he looks. Realmuto has everything you look for in a catcher, but at 30-years-old, there are still some questions as far as how well he’ll fare in the current climate. Time will tell, but after slashing .273/.333/.492 with 36 home runs over 192 games in his Phillies’ tenure, Realmuto should have no shortage of suitors. The tastemakers here at MLBTR pegged him as 2nd on our list of Top-50 Free Agents in the market, naming the Mets, Reds, Nationals, Yankees, Blue Jays, Phillies, Cardinals, Astros, and Angels as potential suitors.
Springer, 31, has his own bugaboo that makes this foray into the free market an interesting one. There are few holes in his resume, but the part he played in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal will continue to be a line item on any story involving Springer. Still, with a 153 wRC+ since 2019, the ability to play center or left, and 5.0 rWAR per 650 plate appearances throughout his career, Springer will get some attention this winter.
Besides, not that we believe in this sort of thing anymore, but he’s nails in the postseason. He boasts a playoff triple slash of .269/.349/.546 over an absurd 63 career games with 19 home runs and 38 RBIs. That extrapolates out to 49 HRs and 98 RBIs over 162 games. He’s tied for 4th all-time in playoff home runs and currently ranks 5th in championship win probability added. We temper our expectations when it comes to sustainability in high-leverage situations, but we can still marvel at the success Springer has managed thus far in his career (with the now-usual caveat for his part in the sign-stealing).
The MLBTR soothsayers have Springer third on our Top-50 Free Agents list, with the White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Nationals, Cardinals, and Mets as possible destinations. Even with the rejection of the qualifying offer, a return to Houston cannot be ruled out either.