Potential landing spots for free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto appear to be drying up.
The Mets removed themselves from the running when they signed James McCann to a four-year deal worth just over $40 million.
The Nationals are viewed as unlikely.
The Yankees’ primary focus is DJ LeMahieu.
The Texas teams — Astros and Rangers — have been mentioned in connection to Realmuto, who is from Oklahoma. But on Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal poured a little cold water on the Astros possibility.
“Realmuto is a fit for the Astros, at least from a baseball perspective,” he wrote at The Athletic. “But the quality of the draft picks the team would sacrifice for signing Realmuto, or any other free agent attached to a qualifying offer, likely will be severe enough to limit the club’s interest, if not eliminate it entirely.”
Houston is in a unique situation, having forfeited its first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021 because of the sign-stealing scandal, and losing even more picks for exceeding the luxury tax threshold.
On the Phillies Talk podcast Tuesday, Jim Salisbury and I discussed the possibility of the Phillies, after all the noise this offseason, somehow ending up with both Realmuto and Didi Gregorius.
The Yankees also came up again in that conversation. There is uncertainty with LeMahieu, who has apparently grown frustrated by the stalled negotiations and is considering other teams. The Blue Jays are viewed as one of the Yankees’ top threats, with the Cardinals, Mets, Braves, Dodgers and Red Sox also potentially in the mix.
Why does that matter? Because if the Yankees cannot re-sign LeMahieu, their focus could shift to Realmuto, who would be a big upgrade for them over Gary Sanchez. The mighty Yankees have yet to sign a player in free agency this offseason.
The Phillies still have a lot of work to do to get a deal done, but the fewer opponents for Realmuto, the better. It was a positive sign for top free agents when elite reliever Liam Hendriks signed a $54 million contract this week, but it still looks like Realmuto's market has not developed as expected.