J.T. Realmuto’s contract situation already seemed to be the most pressing issue for the Phillies, but the catcher’s looming free agency can now be pushed even more to the forefront after the passing of the trade deadline Monday afternoon.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said the team has spoken to Realmuto’s camp since the start of summer camp, but he declined to say if an offer has been made.
“I am not going to talk publicly about our discussions with J.T. because J.T. has asked for that,” Klentak said. “In order to allow him to focus on the season and respect him, we’re going to keep this out of the public.”
Realmuto is under contract for just 30 more games, and Sixto Sanchez -- the pitcher the Phillies sent to Miami for Realmuto -- has struck out 14 in his first 12 major-league innings.
The Phillies have plenty of motivation to re-sign Realmuto, but they are still expected to wait until the offseason so they can truly gauge the cost of a free agent after a season in which no fans attended games.
Realmuto entered Monday leading all catchers with 25 RBIs and a .902 OPS. Fans or no fans this season, it’s hard to imagine Realmuto’s worth not being more than $23 million per season, which is the record for a catcher set in 2010 by Joe Mauer.
“I’m not trying to be evasive at all,” Klentak said. “I’m trying to respect what the player asked and that’s to keep this quiet. I think we owe J.T. that respect. Nothing has changed about our admiration for the player. We like him. I think he likes it here. We’ve said this all along, but I’m not going to be providing updates on the status of negotiations. That’s just the way we’re going to do it.”
This season is the first since baseball discontinued the waiver trade deadline, meaning Monday was largely the final chance for teams to add external upgrades. The Phillies will still be able to claim a player who has been outrighted from another team’s 40-man roster, but they will not be able to deal for players who cleared revocable trade waivers the way they have in past seasons.
So, the next month could be a bit less busy for the front office. Perhaps it will have a chance to dig heavier into negotiations with the star catcher.
The Phillies placed Scott Kingery on the injured list with back spasms, pausing his season just three days after hitting a game-winning homer that the team hoped could turn his fortunes around.
“It has been off and on for a while here, so I think the fact is we wanted to get it to calm down,” manager Joe Girardi said. “If he doesn’t play for a couple days it feels OK, but as soon as he starts moving around it comes back. I think our feeling was let’s just get it to calm down completely and then we’ll get back to work. So hopefully it’s just 10 days. That’s our hope, but I can’t tell you for sure.”
Kingery ended Friday night’s game with a homer to left field in the 11th inning, but he went 0-for-4 Sunday night. He’s batting just .127 this season with a .367 OPS in his first 76 plate appearances. His homer was just his second extra-base hit of the year.