Phillies Rumors: Latest on Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto's Contracts

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto in action during a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly growing "more optimistic" about their chances of bringing back free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto ahead of the 2021 MLB season.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported Wednesday the Phillies, who had President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski meet with Realmuto in December, "remain in the mix" for the two-time All-Star, and the club also "still hopes" it can re-sign free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.

Realmuto spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia after starting his career with five years as a member of the Miami Marlins. He posted a career-high .840 OPS with 11 home runs in 47 appearances during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

The 29-year-old Oklahoma native ranks third among all catchers in WAR (19.0) since the start of the 2015 season behind only Yasmani Grandal (26.6) and Buster Posey (22.4), per FanGraphs.

Although the market for several top free agents has been slow to develop as front offices assess the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Realmuto told reporters in July he felt the big-market teams would still be able to make strong offers.

"I still think that the teams at the top of the market are going to be willing to spend money," he said. "Some teams are going to take advantage of the situation, where half or even three-quarters of the league might not be as interested in spending as much money. Other teams are really going to go for it and push for those players."

The New York Mets have led the charge so far in the offseason with a blockbuster trade for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. They've also signed catcher James McCann and relief pitcher Trevor May in free agency.

While the Phillies' NL East rival has been busy under new owner Steve Cohen, a majority of teams have remained quiet so far in the offseason.

That's why players like Realmuto and Gregorius, who compiled an .827 OPS in 2020 during his first year with Philadelphia, are still available with only about a month until spring training.

Bringing them back, or finding suitable replacements, is crucial if the Phillies want to keep pace with the Mets and the two-time defending division champion Atlanta Braves in the NL East.