In case his J.T. Realmuto T-shirt was not a loud enough statement to describe how he felt about the Phillies extending the catcher’s contract, Bryce Harper used his words on Wednesday afternoon.
“Sign him,” Harper yelled after Realmuto hit a grand slam in an empty Citizens Bank Park during an intrasquad game.
Harper circled the bases after Realmuto’s home run, touched home plate, and pointed his head to the sky as he yelled his wishes into the air, perhaps hoping his scream would reach Matt Klentak’s office.
Realmuto, regarded as baseball’s premier catcher, can become a free agent after the season and Klentak said last week that there had not been much progress made in terms of negotiations. The Phillies are trying to gauge how the coronavirus, which will sap revenue from the game, will affect Realmuto’s market.
Harper wore a Realmuto shirt during batting practice for the first three days of summer camp, seeming to drop a subtle hint toward the front office. The two are close friends and Harper said last season that Realmuto is his “favorite player.”
“I think J.T. is a great player,” Harper said last week “If the Phillies don’t end up signing him back, which would be terrible and sad, I think there’s a lot of other teams out there that are going to want to sign the guy. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber catcher every year, he’s a great person, a great player. I mean, everybody in this organization from the top down wants to see him in red pinstripes for the rest of his career and hopefully we can make that happen.”