There is no question JT Realmuto is one of the most talented catchers in all of Major League Baseball, and an important part of the Phillies success. That being said, our incompetent general manager Matt Klentak decided to gamble by not locking him up prior to the 2020 season, and now the team is in deep trouble. It’s been reported that the Mets, Yankees, and now even the Nationals are going to be in the JT sweepstakes this offseason, and with all the Phillies needs going into 2021 they would be smart to let JT walk.
To put the money the Phillies would have to spend to keep Realmuto into perspective, 31 year old Yasmani Grandal signed a 4 year 73 million dollar deal this past offseason with the Chicago White Sox. Yasmani spent many years on the Dodgers producing great numbers at the plate but his huge 2019 season in Milwakee got him paid—Grandal batted .246 with 28 homeruns and 77 RBIs, earning a trip to the All-Star game. He has definitely fallen off a bit in the first year of his big contract, batting just .233 with 7 homeruns and 23 RBIs—it is a shortend season, but as we’ve seen before catchers age like milk.
Realmuto is a much better player than Grandal both offensively and defensively, JT is also two years younger and has great speed for a catcher. The ball is in Realmuto’s court and I don’t think he’ll settle for a short- term deal, this is his chance to get paid and have security for the rest of his career. I think he‘ll be asking for a 5-7 year contract that pays him around 20 million dollars annually and the Phillies are not in a position to give him that contract, especially if we‘re in a bidding war with some of the biggest markets in the league.
Like a Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, Matt Klentak dropped the ball on this one and it’s why he will be looking at the classified adds as soon as the 2020 season comes to an end. The roster he assembled heading into 2020 was not well structured at all, an elite offense with a very solid starting rotation and the worst bullpen that the sport has ever seen. And to make it better he goes out and acquires 3 arms mid-season to try and cover himself and they end up being the 3 worst pitchers in the pen.
Brandon Workman was one of two pitchers to come over from the Red Sox, in 14 games as a Phillies he has a 6.92 era and has allowed 23 hits, 9 walks, 4 homeruns, and 10 earned runs in just 13 innings. Heath Hembree was acquired in the same trade as Workman and his stats as a Phillies are even worse. In 11 games he‘s pitched to a 12.54 Era with 17 hits, 5 walks, 7 homeruns, and 13 earned runs in 9.1 innings pitched. Klentak’s last gem is a guy I am really surprised struggled this deeply, David Phelps. Phelps has had a solid track record but I guess pitching in this bullpen is contagious. Phelps in 10 games has a 12.91 Era with 12 hits, 3 walks, 5 homeruns and 11 earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched. With the Phillies having a lackluster farm system trading any sort of prospect for these arms should have you fired immediately when the season comes to a close.
Going into 2021 the Phillies are going to need a new pen, possibly a shortstop, and someone to replace Jake Arrieta in the starting rotation. If you decide to sign Realmuto those holes might be hard to fill if Middleton just refuses to pay the luxury tax like most big market teams who are serious about winning. I think signing Didi Gregorious should be priority number 1 for the Phillies this offseason. Day in and day out Didi has played great defense and has never really entered a slump at the plate. With a weekend left in the season he’s missed just 1 game, batting .286 with 9 homeruns and 37 RBIs. With the ground ball rate that Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin possess, I think having a top shortstop like Didi is a priority.
Didi Gregorius: 56 games/.286AVG/9HR/37RBI/33R/10Doubles/.342OBP/.492SLG
JT Realmuto: 43 games/.272AVG/11HR/31RBI/33R/6Doubles/.358OBP/.519SLG
In a perfect world both of these guys would be back in the lineup in 2021, and while it’s still a possibility, I think we can only keep one. I lean towards keeping Gregorius mainly because his contract will be for significantly less money, opening the door to fix the bullpen and add a starter.
Whatever the GM situation is I don’t want the Phillies to overpay because they feel like they have too. It’s looking like Sixto Sanchez, the prospect traded for Realmuto, is going to be an ace in this league. He has an electric fastball and a wipe-out slider that he’s fooling Major League hitters with already in his age 21 season. Sixto in 6 starts in 2020 is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched.
You do not trade generational pitching talent for a two year rental unless that player is the difference maker in potentially winning a World Series and its very obvious this team is not close to playing in the fall classic any time soon. Realmuto should have been locked into a long-term deal before he even took the field for the Phillies, Klentak gambled on his success and he got burned.
Prioritizing the holes the Phillies have to fill going into next season is a better use of money than having Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto have All-Star seasons on a 81-81 ball club.