J.T. Realmuto is the top position player available this offseason, there’s no debate. And with such high acclaim comes a boatload of suitors, namely the Yankees, Nationals, Astros, Angels, Blue Jays, Reds, Cardinals, and Mets. SO let’s jump right in and take a look at the landing spots for the hottest name on the free agent market.
Realmuto is an upgrade from Gary Sanchez both at the dish and behind it. Sanchez has long been criticized for his lackluster catching abilities, but it’s his inconsistent bat that seems to be causing more irritation lately. With Kyle Higashioka as their next best option behind the plate, the Yankees are looking to upgrade. Realmuto offers more consistency with his bat than either player but brings the catching ability of Higashioka. A win-win for New York.
Not yet satisfied?
In 2020, Realmuto converted 55 percent of non-swing pitches into called strikes in the Shadow Zone, the second-best rate of any catcher in baseball. Higashioka ranked 20th, and Gary Sanchez ranked 52nd.
The Nationals more than likely won’t be resigning Kurt Suzuki. The Nationals also lost some firepower when Anthony Rendon left last offseason for the Angels. Realmuto kills two birds with one contract: a solid catcher and an offensive bat. Makes sense, and you offer Realmuto the chance to catch three of the best pitchers in the National League.
This also continues a longstanding tradition of NL East teams snatching up each other’s stars. Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud to the Braves. Zack Wheeler and Bryce Harper to the Phillies. And how could we forget the most important free agent signings of the past decade, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos to the Mets? This could be a long-term play for the Nats, who are looking to get back on top in 2021.
It would appear that Dan Jansen isn’t panning out the way the Blue Jays would have hoped, and they are now poised to bring in another catching option. The Blue Jays have a young core that seems primed to explode once they get a few more reps under their belts. Adding Realmuto to the young lineup and as battery mate to a stable of decent starters could be the key to AL East dominance.
The Reds have been rolling with Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali for the last three seasons, and they have been absolutely decent. The Barnhart/Casali tandem has been consistently average for the last few years, and the Reds haven’t been amazing these last few seasons either. But things in 2020 went great, so why not upgrade now? Seems to make sense.
It would also make sense for the Reds to invest in a solid backstop for a few reasons, namely Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and potentially Trevor Bauer. Bringing in a solid catcher with a better bat could help push the Reds over the edge and take advantage of a terrible NL Central division.
But the two big names in the running for Realmuto’s services are the Phillies and the Mets.
As the incomparable Ellen Adair put it, “that there is no one to replace J.T. Realmuto is indisputable.” And for a Phillies team that has gotten somehow worse in the few seasons since signing Bryce Harper, that’s becoming more and more true. The Phillies have to sign J.T. Realmuto, they simply have to.
And yet, they didn’t. For the entire 2020 season, the Phillies stood pat and didn’t offer a new contract to their All-Star catcher. Which is crazy. Robbie Ray got a contract from the Blue Jays after pitching five games for them in 2020. But Realmuto doesn’t get anything? That’s a head-scratcher. And now, after he’s rejected your Qualifying Offer, you have to fight for space in the marketplace. You could have avoided this situation entirely, and yet you still chose to sprint directly into the unknown.
If the Phillies fail to sign Realmuto that would mean they would potentially be without their second top-five hitter from the 2020 season. With Didi Gregorius poised to cash in after a great season in Philly, the Phillies are left with an offense led by Harper, Segura and Bohm. That’s not the offense that’s going to win the NL East. You need to bring back one of them, and it has to be Realmuto.
What a disaster for a team the desperately needs to sign Realmuto. Big Oof for all you Phanatics out there. You simply cannot fall that hard in 2020 only to turn around and wave goodbye to Realmuto. That’s insanity.
And with the other top suitor being a division rival, the Phillies might have to think of this as a defensive signing, as well. Would you rather fave Realmuto on your team, or in the opposing dugout? Easy question. You want him in your lineup.
At the beginning of the offseason, I did not think there was any chance of the Mets signing Realmuto. How often have you heard of the Mets being in on signing a big-time free agent only to realize they were going to sign Jed Lowrie? Every year. It’s every year. Instead, we end up sending prospects away for contracts we can’t pay for.
And then Christmas came early in Queens when the Wilpon Era ended with the sale of the Mets to Steve Cohen. Why does this matter?
There are two big-ticket Free Agents that the Mets could benefit from and they are 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto. With the Mets having serious difficulty behind the plate, to the point where it was stunting the growth and progress of their insanely gifted rotation, Realmuto seems like a godsend. And with Steve Cohen looking to make a splash as the newest MLB owner, this could be the moment Mets fans have been waiting for.
The Mets have also had a string of almost last-ditch reactionary catcher moves. When Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t hold runners at first, they signed René Rivera. In the offseason, they signed Wilson Ramos. They then brought in Devin Mesoraco and even traded for Robinson Chirinos. All the while catching prospects like Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido failed to develop into suitable replacements.
The Mets seemed to be a waypoint station for wayward backstops. And with an embarrassment of riches that is their starting rotation, it’s time they invested in a good catcher. Imagine deGrom with Realmuto’s game calling. or Syndergaard with Realmuto’s arm, or Stroman with Realmuto’s framing.
Realmuto doesn’t just make the Mets better, he makes them an immediate contender.
J.T. Realmuto is the top position player available on the free agent market this offseason, and will more than likely get a big contract. And with one team, and more specifically one owner, looking to make a splash ahead of the 2021 season, the consensus is pretty much set.
The odds seem to be tipping towards Realmuto heading to Queens for the foreseeable future.
Predicted Team: New York Mets.
Predicted Contract: 5 years, $125 Million Dollars.
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