CLEARWATER, Fla. — As J.T. Realmuto donned Phillies jersey No. 10 for the first time Tuesday, it was not difficult to imagine a similar scene unfolding in the coming days or weeks.
Manny Machado is still out there and No. 13 — which he wore for six seasons in Baltimore — is conveniently unassigned.
Bryce Harper is also out there and his No. 34 is also available in red pinstripes.
The Phillies, as you well know after more than 3½ months of free-agent drama, would still like to sign one of these guys. It would be a nice topper to a winter in which the team has already added outfielder Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura, reliever David Robertson and All-Star catcher Realmuto.
Realmuto and Harper have both spent their entire careers in the National League East in Miami and Washington, respectively, and they have mutual admiration for each other. Harper, in fact, openly wished for the Nationals to trade for Realmuto last summer (see story).
How does a rendezvous in Philly sound to Realmuto?
“Anybody would love to have a guy like that on your team,” Realmuto said. “I haven’t quite been involved in those discussions because I haven’t been here very long, but I would definitely love to have a player like that on this team.”
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak admitted that some members of the team have asked him about his pursuit of Harper and Machado.
“We know there are some pretty good free agents out there and we’re going to continue to have those discussions,” Klentak said.
Klentak keeps negotiations close to the vest. That goes for free agents such as Machado and Harper and players already in Phillies uniforms such as Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and Realmuto. All three seem to be candidates to be locked up with multi-year contract extensions.
Realmuto’s representative, Jeff Berry, was at Tuesday’s news conference. He said there have been no talks of an extension and that after a winter of trade drama, his client was simply happy to be a Phillie.
Realmuto said much the same.
“I haven’t had a chance to even think about that yet,” Realmuto said of a possible extension. “This whole last week has gone by so fast and been so hectic, I haven’t quite had the opportunity to think about that. But from everything I’ve heard about this organization, I’m sure I’ll see for myself. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things, so we’ll see about that in the future.”
Realmuto will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, so the Phillies have time. Last week, Klentak said the club was not ready to discuss an extension, but he pointed out that Realmuto was the kind of person and player the Phillies wanted to retain.
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