Phillies GM Matt Klentak spoke to the media via a Zoom call on Monday afternoon. He addressed a handful of topics, including the Phillies and the COVID-19 situation. Klentak was also asked about a contract extension with catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto, 29, is arguably the best catcher in baseball and is entering his final season before free agency. Last season, Baseball Reference credited him with 4.5 Wins Above Replacement thanks to outstanding defense, solid base running, and an .820 OPS backed by 25 homers and 83 RBI.
It would seem to be a no-brainer for the Phillies to make an offer to Realmuto, especially since the club has no immediate replacements. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic has hurt every team’s bottom line. The shockwaves will be felt by players entering free agency and attempting to negotiate contract extensions, as teams are likely to tighten the purse strings even more than they have been.
Per John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Klentak said, “The landscape we left in March is different from the landscape now. We have to see how that manifests itself. We still love the player and want to have him for the long haul. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We need to factor that in.”
While there is certainly a legitimate basis for the comment, there will be public posturing until Realmuto either re-signs with the Phillies or doesn’t. Klentak would be reducing the Phillies’ leverage by gushing over Realmuto, saying how irreplaceable he is and how much the team needs him. But it’s realistic to expect depressed markets for soon-to-be free agent players, which might ultimately benefit the Phillies in retaining their star catcher.