Atop the Phillies shopping list and the faithful’s wish list, the best receiver in baseball is pursuing a contract the way he guns down a runner who seeks bragging rights of swiping second base off the backstop, not the pitcher.
Maze of uncertainty:
J.T. Realmuto and managing partner John S. Middleton of the Philadelphia Phillies were in serious negotiations because the backstop stated both sides had made progress in the previous three months. However, the transactions’ freeze ended those talks when the pandemic twirled a “snapdragon” curveball on Earth.
"IN OTHER WORDS: “Life throws some curveballs at you, and you go where it takes you.” – Sophia Bush"
Like many state governors over their jurisdictions, Major League Baseball’s plans are to open a three-week camp before an early July Opening Day. And proceeding, cautiously, is what fans should do before expecting this to be a given and –if it happens– produce six definitive victors. One in each division.
Transactions on ice will thaw, and negotiations will resume between Middleton and Realmuto’s agent. Remember, he wants Buster Posey money, and the front burner will come to a slow boil. So, don’t expect either side to move quickly because the virus has created uncertainty and is affecting all new contracts.
To start, franchises will have lower AAVs (average annual value) in 2021 but will also have free agents who may depart. Some are like Realmuto and others are like Jake Arrieta. Ergo, each organization will replace the Arrietas in their rotation and/or regulars like Didi Gregorius in their batting order.
Free agency is also facing uncertainty due to clubs’ lost revenue, and the light at the tunnel’s end may be a bullet train. So, Realmuto and other free agents might settle for less and/or re-up with their current team. But the All-Star catcher won’t make a hasty decision, nor will Middleton.
Among the organizations feared by the locals to sign Realmuto, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels are other franchises who should weather this storm. But do they need a receiver, have other more pressing needs, or face spending limits?
Wrinkle-wise, the MLB is considering an 80-game schedule where the Phils would only play 20 contests each against four divisional rivals: all interdivisional games. But could the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves or New York Mets have interest in Realmuto after ’20?