The Toronto Blue Jays could have very well spent their way out of the JT Realmuto sweepstakes, which is more good news for the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the span of 12 hours, Toronto signed both star center fielder George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal and veteran hitting officianado Michael Brantley to a three-year deal — considerable financial investments.
As one of the teams initially linked to Realmuto, it’s safe to assume Toronto is out of the running for the 29-year-old as spring training is now less than one month away.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies have a deal worth approximately $110 million on the table for Realmuto.
It’s nearly half the number Realmuto and his camp initially wanted heading into the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic has had a heavy impact on Major League Baseball’s free-agency market, creating a sluggish pace that is now finally seeing some big names coming off the board.
It remains to be seen if Realmuto would be willing to take a contract that much lower than his initial goal of $200 million — and there are other teams reportedly lurking like the division-rival Washington Nationals.
There will be an urgency for the catcher to get a deal done this season rather than bet on himself and take a one-year bridge deal that could easily keep him in Philadelphia for at least another season.
MLB teams are usually hesitatnt to dole out contracts on catchers 30 years or older, especially with Realmuto recently experiencing some knee and hip issues. Coming back to the market a year later, at 30, would make it that much harder to secure a deal of his liking — especially if he were to either struggle or deal with injury issues.
There is also the uncertainty that awaits with Major League Baseball and the players’ union. Unsuccessful negotiations to get the 60-game 2020 season off the ground has put added stress on the relationship between the two parties with the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring at the end of 2021.
If said relationship is not repaired, there is the very real possibility of a work stoppage or strike, which means Realmuto would then not be pursuing a contract until he is 31 years old and having not played for a year — as a worst-case scenario.