The Phillies have made a five-year offer worth “slightly” more than $100M to free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic. It’s the second such offer the team has made to Realmuto since last spring, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who adds that there’s “a groundswell of optimism” that Philadelphia will re-sign the two-time All-Star.
The 29-year-old Realmuto spent the previous two seasons in Philadelphia, where the ex-Marlin continued his run as the majors’ premier catcher. Realmuto made it known during those two years that he wanted to remain a Phillie for the long haul, so it’s unsurprising that the team is putting forth a serious effort to keep him. The Phillies have “begun to position themselves as the favorite” in the Realmuto derby, Stark writes, in part because other potential suitors seem to be fading away.
The Mets, who looked like one of the front-runners to get Realmuto when the offseason started, signed James McCann instead. The Yankees probably aren’t in the mix after agreeing to re-sign second baseman DJ LeMahieu for $90M and retaining catcher Gary Sanchez. The Angels might not be involved after agreeing to sign veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki on Friday, while Stark notes that the Rangers “seem unlikely” to dole out a nine-figure contract at this juncture. The Astros look like a fit for Realmuto, but as a qualifying-offer recipient, signing Realmuto would require giving up draft picks, and they’re reportedly hesitant to do that. The Nationals have shown interest in Realmuto, but it’s unknown whether they’re willing to hand out $100M-plus in this case.
The Realmuto sweepstakes may ultimately come down to the Phillies and ultimately Blue Jays, who have been in on seemingly every star player this winter. However, per Stark and Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Toronto’s main focus appears to be free-agent outfielder George Springer. The Jays regard center fielder as a bigger need than catcher, which is why they’re making a greater push for Springer.