It’s not very often that a catcher of
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the star catcher, who turns 30 in March. Realmuto will be tied to Draft-pick compensation after opting not to accept the Phillies’ $18.9 million qualifying offer.
Does Mets’ blockbuster lessen odds of Realmuto returning to Phils?
Jan. 9: The Mets’ blockbuster move to acquire Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland on Thursday had a ripple effect across baseball, especially in the NL East. The Braves have some competition as they seek their fourth straight division title, but what about the Phillies? The big question in Philadelphia this offseason has been whether or not the club will be able to re-sign star catcher J.T. Realmuto. But according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman, it might all be moot if the Phils aren’t going to have a decent chance at making the postseason in 2021.
“Implicit in the idea of re-signing J.T. Realmuto is the thought that you can make the playoffs and/or contend during his remaining prime years,” Seidman writes. “Yet with every addition the Mets and Braves make to their already strong rosters, that thought becomes less realistic for the Phillies from a short-term perspective.”
Seidman goes on to suggest that the size of the postseason field next season, which is yet to be decided, will be a huge factor in determining whether bringing back Realmuto makes sense.
Dombrowski: ‘J.T. is still out there’
Jan. 5: Everyone was already thinking it, but Dave Dombrowski still reiterated it: the Phillies are looking for a catcher, and they’d love that catcher to be Realmuto.
“Right now, we need a catcher,” Philadelphia’s president of baseball operations said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio. “J.T. is still out there. He’s somebody we’d love to have as part of our organization. But we’ll see what ends up happening in that regard.”
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 5, 2021
Dombrowski noted that Andrew Knapp is really the only catcher on the Phillies’ roster at this point, and Knapp is a No. 2-type catcher, not an everyday starter. And of course Realmuto is in a league of his own at the catcher position, especially compared to the other top free agents remaining.
Dombrowski only mentioned Realmuto by name — none of the other free-agent catchers like Tyler Flowers, Jason Castro, Yadier Molina or Wilson Ramos.
Realmuto vs. Contreras — who’s best for Phils?
Jan. 1: What’s the best solution at catcher for the Phillies — re-signing Realmuto or trading for Willson Contreras?
The latter looks like an interesting alternative after reports emerged this week that the Cubs are shopping Contreras, writes NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman.
Realmuto is still the better catcher overall, but Contreras has similar upside as an all-around player at the position, with a big bat, strong arm and good speed for a catcher.
“Weighing Realmuto’s cost in dollars against the cost for Contreras in dollars and talent, it’s hard to say which would be the better option from a Phillies perspective,” Seidman writes.
He notes that the Phillies might not be willing to part with their top prospects or best young big leaguers, which could mean signing Realmuto is still the team’s best plan. But, he adds, “there’s no doubt that Contreras is the best Plan B to date in replacing Realmuto.”
Should Phillies be panicking about Realmuto?
Dec. 31: The calendar is flipping to 2021, and Realmuto, one of the top free agents on the market, remains just that — a free agent. Should that be cause for alarm for the Phillies, for whom the All-Star catcher posted an .825 OPS with 36 homers over 192 games from 2019-20, to go along with his stellar play behind the plate? According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, the answer is a resounding no.
Salisbury explains his reasoning by pointing out that the free-agent market for top-level talent has been more slow-developing in recent years, as agents try to push price tags up and teams try to push them the other way, causing some signings to border on the opening of Spring Training (in the Phillies’ case, see Bryce Harper and Jake Arrieta). Toss the uncertainty caused by the pandemic on top of that, and it’s not hard to see why Realmuto’s market is taking some time to mature.
But while it’s been slow-developing, Salisbury writes that the Hot Stove should start to “heat up in January.”
Phillies still focused on Realmuto
Dec. 28: The Phillies still have their eyes on their prize catcher. Re-signing Realmuto remains the team’s priority, and their offer to Realmuto remains on the table, according to a report Monday from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
JT Realmuto remains a/the priority for the Phillies with the new regime. They have an offer out to him but like with the other big free agents it might be a waiting game.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 28, 2020
Heyman first reported last week that Philadelphia had an offer out to Realmuto, who’s played like a star for the Phillies ever since they traded for him in 2019. The market for the top free agents has developed slowly — none of the consensus top four, Realmuto, George Springer, Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu, have signed. But that doesn’t mean the Phillies won’t bring back Realmuto eventually.
Phillies remain Realmuto’s best fit
Dec. 26: MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince sums up the best fits for each remaining free agent from the top 25, doling out only one free agent per team. There, he notes that the Phillies are still the best option for Realmuto. Even with the team trying to remain under the luxury tax threshold, it will need to fill the catcher role, and losing Realmuto would make competing significantly tougher for the Phillies in 2021.
Report: Phillies have extended offer to Realmuto
Dec. 22: The Phillies have an offer on the table for Realmuto, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who notes that the catcher also has received offers from other unknown clubs.
The Phillies have an offer on the table for J.T. Realmuto but the other offers for baseball’s best all-around catcher remain unknown #mysterymarket
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2020
Realmuto, 29, is believed to be seeking a record-setting deal for a catcher and the Phillies have acknowledged that they plan to cut payroll, so it remains to be seen if the two sides can strike an agreement.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said he spoke with Realmuto’s agent, Jeff Berry, on Monday for the first time since accepting his new job, though he clarified that it wasn’t a contract negotiation. Rather, Berry reached out to welcome Dombrowski to the Phillies.
“I don’t read anything into it other than I’ve known him a long time and he reached out to me,” Dombrowski said about Berry. “I guess the good part is that we continue to have cordial conversations. And being fortunate enough to be in the organization in which he represents a quality player. It also makes it very simple for me to tell him how much we’d love to have him.”
Nats interested in Realmuto
Dec. 19: Realmuto’s prowess is well-known to all teams in MLB, but especially in the National League East, where the superstar backstop has played the entirety of his stellar seven-year career. Could the two-time All-Star make his way to his third NL East club?
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports the Nats have interest in landing the coveted free agent, but it will naturally depend on if ownership is ready to approve the significant expenditure.
The Nats have interest in J.T. Realmuto. But it will come down to whether the Lerners approve the expenditure. Their payroll has been relatively high but they have their limits. @Britt_Ghiroli on this
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 19, 2020
Nats ownership has shown a stomach for high-priced free agents before, from Max Scherzer to Patrick Corbin in recent years, as well as re-signing Stephen Strasburg after an opt-out. It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the club to make a big free-agent splash.
Report: Mets finalizing deal with McCann, who lines up as new Realmuto favorites?
Dec. 12: One of the biggest favorites to sign Realmuto appears to be going in a different direction.
As widely expected, multiple reports state that the Mets are finalizing a four-year deal for free-agent catcher James McCann worth more than $40 million. McCann’s contract could help Realmuto’s camp crystallize an asking price, with Realmuto offering a more all-around game than McCann and a better track record, too. And while the Mets’ move does take one deep-pocketed suitor off the table, it perhaps drives up the urgency among the other teams in the Realmuto derby, now that the best catching alternative is reportedly gone.
The Phillies are still likely the presumptive favorite with their NL East rivals seemingly out of the way. New president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski reiterated at his introductory press conference Friday that the organization would love to bring Realmuto back, though MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Philadelphia has publicly and privately expressed shades of pessimism about re-signing the star backstop, due in part to the pandemic-reduced payroll expectations for 2021.
MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi speculated last week that the Nationals should also be considered favorites for Realmuto, with Washington presumably seeking someone to augment its current catching corps of Yan Gomes and Tres Barrera. The Angels (who threw their hat into the McCann bidding this past week), Cardinals and Yankees are three other options that make sense as clubs that could seek an upgrade to their situations behind the plate.
Stars aligning for Realmuto return to Phils?
Dec. 10: After the two sides were unable to work out an extension last offseason, there has been little talk from the Phillies this winter about bringing back marquee free agent J.T. Realmuto. Part of that could be the fact that the Phils have been searching for a new president of baseball operations, leaving it up in the air as to who — if anyone — has been in contact with Realmuto’s camp.
That could be about to change, with multiple sources confirming to MLB.com that Dave Dombrowski will become the club’s president of baseball operations. The club has not confirmed the move, which was first reported by The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.
Dombroski will likely be tasked with finding a way to re-sign Realmuto — and the longtime executive is certainly no stranger to making big moves. While serving as the Red Sox president of baseball operations, Dombrowski signed slugger J.D. Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract prior to the 2018 season. Dombrowski also orchestrated the December 2016 trade that brought Chris Sale to Boston. During his days with the Tigers, Dombrowski also signed free-agent deals with Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Magglio Ordonez and Jose Valverde, among many others.
Nationals the favorites for Realmuto?
Dec. 4: With the Mets focusing on James McCann and the Phillies’ financial situation potentially impacting the club’s spending habits this offseason, there’s no longer a clear frontrunner for Realmuto.
But MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi thinks the door could be open for another National League East club — the Nationals — to step in and sign the catcher.
“Perhaps the most likely team to get Realmuto … would be the Washington Nationals,” Morosi said Friday on MLB Network. “They’ve seen him up close for the entirety of his career — first the Marlins and then the Phillies — just what a great two-way catcher J.T. is. And that would be a real win for the Nationals when you consider the way that their club is set up.
“Certainly this would not be well received by the noted former National in Bryce Harper, if in fact Realmuto goes back to play in our nation’s capital. But I do think the Nationals are in the market for a catcher, and in so many ways Realmuto fits their club as well as he fits any other club.”
Report: Mets in ‘active talks’ with McCann
Dec. 3: Realmuto and the Mets have seemed like a natural fit given New York’s need at the catcher position and new owner Steve Cohen’s public statements about wanting to pursue high-end talent in the free-agent market. But reports earlier this week about the Mets possibly turning their attention to fellow free-agent catcher James McCann instead appear to be coming to fruition. Fansided’s Robert Murray reports that the Queens club is engaged in “active talks” with McCann about a potential four-year contract, though Murray stresses that a deal is not imminent.
Mets in active talks with free-agent catcher James McCann, according to league sources. A deal is not yet close, but it is looking increasingly likely he will land a four-year deal.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 3, 2020
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman quickly affirmed Murray’s reporting, stating that the Mets are “making a serious push” for McCann.
Mets are making a serious push for catcher James McCann as @ByRobertMurray said. He has several serious suitors but Mets are among teams most involved.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2020
Realmuto’s all-around game, including his athleticism, baserunning and throwing arm behind the plate, undoubtedly makes him the top catcher on the free-agent market. But the Mets might see an opportunity to sign another All-Star catcher in McCann at a lower cost, which could still give them flexibility to pursue other top-of-the-market free agents like outfielder George Springer or pitcher Trevor Bauer. New York already shored up its bullpen when it signed right-hander Trevor May on Wednesday, and multiple reports have stated that Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson are hoping to sign multiple top free agents before the offseason is through.
If the Mets do indeed sign McCann and decide they are set at the catcher position, the Phillies could move back up as the favorite to re-sign Realmuto, though of course plenty of other teams — the Nationals, Yankees and Angels, to name just a few — also figure to hold plenty of interest in the star backstop.
Report: Segura being floated in trade talks; Jays interested
Dec. 2: Jean Segura’s name is coming up in trade talks, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
Jean Segura’s name is coming up in trades talks. Versatile player who’s been on the move a lot, not only between positions.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 2, 2020
Fansided’s Robert Murray hears that the Blue Jays are one of the teams talking to the Phillies about the versatile infielder.
Sources: Blue Jays among teams talking to Phillies about Jean Segura. @JonHeyman mentioned Segura drawing interest.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 2, 2020
Segura split time between second and third base in 2020, moving away from shortstop after the team signed Didi Gregorius. In two years with Philadelphia, Segura has hit .276/.329/.421 with 19 homers in 198 games.
He has been traded four times since 2012, going from the Angels to the Brewers to the D-backs to the Mariners to the Phillies.
Segura is set to earn $14.85 million in 2021 and another $14.85 million in ’22. He also has a $17 million team option with a $1 million buyout in 2023.
Clearing Segura’s contract from the books would presumably give the Phillies a better chance to re-sign Realmuto, though they would probably need to eat some of the money to move the 30-year-old.
FanGraphs’ RosterResource gives the Phillies a projected payroll of $146 million for 2021, $39 million lower than it was at the end of 2020.
Report: Mets after McCann more than Realmuto
Nov. 30: When this offseason began, the Mets were widely considered to be one of the frontrunners for Realmuto. They need a catcher, and new owner Steve Cohen is ready to spend. It seemed like a logical fit. However, it appears the team is prioritizing other targets.
According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Mets are pursuing free-agent catcher James McCann, and their interest is “potentially serious.” Per Martino’s report, the team is after McCann more than Realmuto right now.
Why McCann over Realmuto? Likely because signing McCann would leave more room for the club to ink center fielder George Springer, whom Martino notes is “one of the Mets’ top targets this offseason, if not the top target.”
The Mets aren’t alone in the McCann sweepstakes, however, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Angels and White Sox are in the mix as well. According to Heyman, the Phillies are also believed to be interested in McCann as a backup plan if they don’t re-sign Realmuto.
James McCann has received interest from the Yanks, Mets, Cardinals and Angels in addition to the White Sox. Phillies also believed interested if they lose Realmuto. McCann is coming into his own with a 144 OPS plus last year. White Sox like him, but realistically, he’s a starter.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2020
Realmuto to D.C.? How would the market be impacted?
Nov. 26: MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan considers what might happen to the market for catchers this offseason should Realmuto ink a contract with the Nationals. Among possible dominos to fall: The market for catcher James McCann could heat up, pressure may mount on the team losing Realmuto — the Phillies — and the Cubs could become ideal trade partners with Philadelphia.
Report: Mets targeting multiple big names
Nov. 24: On the day the Braves made another free-agent signing, agreeing with starter Charlie Morton, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Mets are looking to be aggressive this offseason, too. According to Olney’s source, the Mets are looking to acquire multiple of the “big four” this offseason — identified by Olney as Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, George Springer and Francisco Lindor.
Interestingly, DJ LeMahieu wasn’t among the players Olney mentioned. There’s been some speculation that the Mets could pursue the second baseman after Robinson Canó was suspended for 162 games without pay, leaving the team with a hole at the keystone and trimming $20.25 million from the 2021 payroll.
The Mets are expected to increase payroll this offseason under new owner Steve Cohen, and they have already been linked to Lindor trade chatter.
Nationals could pursue Realmuto
Nov. 18: The Phillies want to bring back Realmuto after giving up top pitching prospect Sixto Sánchez to get him two offseasons ago, but MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports in the latest episode of the Big Time Baseball podcast that the team is “discouraged” about its chances of keeping the catcher.
While it has been assumed that Philadelphia would get significant competition from the Mets for the 29-year-old, another National League East club could make a push as well, as Heyman has heard the Nationals are a potential suitor.
This isn’t the first time Washington has been linked to Realmuto. Earlier this month, MLB Network insider and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal told colleague Jayson Stark on the Starkville podcast that he had talked to an MLB executive who predicted that the backstop would land with the Nats. When Realmuto was on the block two years ago, Washington was one of the teams that engaged in trade talks with the Marlins.
The Nationals have veteran catcher Yan Gomes under contract for $6 million in 2021, but at age 33, he is better suited for a backup role. Realmuto would give Washington’s roster more balance after the club relied heavily on Juan Soto and Trea Turner for offense in 2020.
If the Nationals do sign Realmuto, it would not only deal a significant blow to a division rival but also serve as a measure of revenge after the Phillies lured Bryce Harper away from Washington prior to the 2019 season.
Mets prioritizing other free agents over Realmuto?
Nov. 12: It has been presumed that the Mets would have Realmuto at the top of their wish list this offseason, but SNY’s Andy Martino wrote Thursday that the team appears to be focused more on center fielder George Springer and Trevor Bauer, two other big-ticket free agents.
Meanwhile, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that free-agent catcher Yadier Molina has drawn interest from both the Mets and Yankees, as well as 3-4 other teams — all in addition to the Cardinals. MLB.com’s David Adler broke down what the Mets’ interest in Molina could mean for Realmuto’s market. More >
Future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina has received calls with interest from both the Yankees and Mets plus 3-4 other teams in addition to the #STLCards as I just said on @MLBNetwork St. Louis is the likely favorite but in free agency you never know. Seeks a 2-year deal.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 12, 2020
Where do the experts see Realmuto going?
Nov. 11: Where will Realmuto sign if he declines the Phillies’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline, as is widely expected? MLB.com’s Alyson Footer, Mark Feinsand, Todd Zolecki and Anthony DiComo came together to debate that very topic, and they all placed their chips on one club: the Mets, who just introduced their new owner, Steve Cohen, on Tuesday. The panel expects Cohen to make a big splash and possibly make Realmuto the highest-paid catcher in MLB history. More >
New ownership, new star catcher?
Nov. 6: With Steve Cohen finalizing his purchase of the Mets, the perception is that the club will be in the mix for some big-ticket free agents. With a need at catcher, what better free agent signing than Realmuto to send a message to the fanbase, asks MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. More >
Execs pick Realmuto as No. 1 FA
Nov. 4: MLB executives think Realmuto is the best free agent available this offseason.
In an MLB.com poll of 21 executives around the Majors, 10 picked Realmuto as the No. 1 free agent, compared to six votes for Trevor Bauer, four votes for George Springer and one vote for DJ LeMahieu.
One National League executive told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “The simple fact is that [Realmuto will] be the only free agent who is probably the best player at his position. And having a top-tier catcher is a big advantage because there are so few of them across the league.”
Another NL executive said that Realmuto gets the vote because, “Although I’m tempted to say Bauer, I think Realmuto is the one impact-up-the-middle player this year that could really take someone over the top.” More >
New York battle brewing for Realmuto?
Nov. 3: Realmuto is one of the most coveted free agents in this offseason’s class, with multiple big-market teams expected to be in on the bidding.
The Phillies will likely make re-signing Realmuto a priority after trading right-hander Sixto Sánchez in a package for the backstop two offseasons ago.
The Mets are expected to be one of the top suitors for Realmuto as well, with new owner Steve Cohen looking to make an immediate splash, but they might not be alone in New York.
Former Mets general manager and current MLB Network Radio analyst Steve Phillips predicts that the Yankees will also get involved.
🔥 HOT STOVE PRIMER 🔥
Is the best catcher in baseball New York-bound? pic.twitter.com/Nwoo3If8Oy
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 2, 2020
The same goes for former GM Jim Bowden, who places the Yankees among the best fits for Realmuto in his article for The Athletic (subscription required).
The Bronx Bombers have catcher Gary Sánchez under control for two more years, but he’s coming off a season in which he hit just .147/.253/.365 with 64 strikeouts in 178 plate appearances. He ceded playing time to Kyle Higashioka in the postseason, starting only two of New York’s seven playoff games. Sánchez, 27, is a career .173 hitter with a .608 OPS over 120 PAs in his postseason career.
With Cohen purchase approved, are Mets the favorite to land Realmuto?
Nov. 1: Major League Baseball owners and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both approved the Mets’ sale from the Wilpon family to Steve Cohen on Friday, and Cohen is expected to assume ownership by mid-November. After paying a record $2.4 billion to buy the Mets, Cohen will now come in as one of MLB’s wealthiest team owners.
So does Cohen’s arrival make the Mets the top horse in the sweepstakes for Realmuto? New York now figures to be “one of the few buyers without major limitations in this market,” writes MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, and the club has a big opening at catcher after buying out Wilson Ramos’ contract and letting him enter free agency. Castrovince predicts that the Mets will indeed sign Realmuto, giving them a player who can give them a major boost both offensively and defensively. More >
Phillies not expected to be aggressive early in free agency
Oct. 30: Re-signing J.T. Realmuto may be an offseason priority for the Phillies, but the club is unlikely to come to a quick resolution with the free-agent catcher. According to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail indicated that he doesn’t expect to make any major moves in free agency until later in the process.
Andy MacPhail made clear that a) he won’t remain with the #Phillies beyond next year, b) the hiring of a new GM isn’t imminent, c) he doesn’t expect any big moves in free agency until later in the process. Club’s focus is internal for now, in terms of staff reductions, etc.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) October 30, 2020
It’s unclear how that will impact Philadelphia’s chances of retaining Realmuto, who is one of the top free agents on the market.
The first order of business for the Phillies will be making a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to Realmuto, which he is likely to reject.
Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Realmuto is seeking a record-breaking contract for a catcher in the $200 million range, a number the Phillies aren’t interested in approaching. Privately, the club is betting no other team will, either.
Can Phillies keep Realmuto?
Oct. 26: Phillies managing partner John Middleton told reporters earlier this month that he only consented to the February 2019 trade that sent impressive rookie pitcher Sixto Sánchez to the Marlins in exchange for Realmuto if Philadelphia could be certain that they could sign the star catcher to a long-term extension. Well, that extension hasn’t happened to this point, and now Realmuto is set to enter the free-agent market following the World Series. The Phillies will have plenty of competition when he gets there.
Certainly the Phillies figure to be one of the major players in the Realmuto sweepstakes, and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber estimates the club has roughly $35 million to $41 million to spend in the free-agent market this winter. But MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand notes that the Yankees could quickly become major players if they decide to move on from catcher Gary Sánchez (either via non-tender or trade), and the Mets (with presumptive new owner Steve Cohen) could make it a New York derby for Realmuto if they decline Wilson Ramos’ $10 million option, as expected.
Feinsand lists the Cardinals (should Yadier Molina move on in free agency), Angels and Nationals as three other clubs to keep an eye on — and that list could grow, considering that Realmuto may well be the best player in this year’s free-agent market. If the Phillies want to keep enjoying Realmuto’s play for years to come, they may want to prepare themselves for a bidding war.