Philadelphia Phillies: Uncertain season complicates J.T. Realmuto situation

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

The contract of Philadelphia Phillies all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto is up after this season whether MLB plays or not, and that could turn into a real issue for the Phils.

Has J.T. Realmuto already played his last game with the Philadelphia Phillies?

It’s still far too early to actually worry about this happening, but there is at least a possibility that he has, as a result of MLB and its Players Association agreeing on a number of issues that could end up arising from the league’s current shutdown. And while we all would love for a return to baseball as soon as possible, the doomsday scenario of an entirely canceled season has to be considered.

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In this case, it was agreed that players with less than a year on their remaining contract will hit the free market even if no games are played in 2020. This group, of course, includes Realmuto. And the Phillies will really be in a tough spot if this happens, with their arbitration “win” over Realmuto last month perhaps proving even more costly than we thought it would be at the time when Realmuto himself was expressing frustration over the process and getting the short end of the result.

So, for this exercise, let’s pretend (sadly) that there is no baseball in 2020. What would that mean for J.T. Realmuto and his potential future on the Phillies?

Simply put, Realmuto would hold all of the leverage over the Phillies if we don’t have a 2020 season. They will have to give him exactly what he wants, especially since they saved a few bucks on the salary that they would have paid him if 2020 had happened. Plus, he will still have his most recent work from 2019 (all-star selection, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger) to lean back on. Other clubs will be beating down his door to get a piece of that, even if he will be hitting age 30 just before the 2021 season begins.

Then again, he would have saved a full season’s worth of wear-and-tear on his body, so maybe whoever signed him would be getting an even better version than they would have otherwise. For our collective sanity in Philadelphia, that team had better be the Phillies.

When the Phils made the bold move to extricate Realmuto from the Marlins for top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and a still developing catcher in Jorge Alfaro, everyone knew that the Phils would be getting two years of Realmuto at a bare minimum. Even if he went somewhere else after that point, the trade might have still been viewed as a win if the Phils managed to get two seasons of excellent play from him along with some postseason success from the team. After that, the development of the players they traded (especially Sanchez) would ultimately tell the tale of how good or bad the trade was for the Phils.

But now, with the chance of no baseball in 2020, the Phillies are staring the reality of losing Realmuto right in the face if they don’t bend over backwards for him. And they should, because losing him now after just one season with the team would be a total, unmitigated disaster.

And I don’t say that lightly. It will have been a tremendous waste.

Look, nobody saw any of this coming, as we all thought that we had another guaranteed year of excellent play from the catcher position in this town, barring injury of course. But now the Phillies must react appropriately, or the blame is entirely on them. Otherwise, God help us all.

Alfaro looks like he can be a good player for a long time in Miami (or whatever team they trade him to when he gets too expensive), and the jury is still out on Sanchez, though his future remains bright. How much would it sting to see them excel versus the Phils while the player they were dealt away for flourishes somewhere else, all because the team couldn’t reach deep enough to pay the man?

Next. Happy birthday to the great Harry Kalas. dark

This honestly has to be the worst part of a canceled 2020 season from a Phillies perspective. Because this team will take a huge hit if J.T. Realmuto is not in a Phillies uniform the next time we play baseball.