The Phillies' third consecutive late-season collapse isn't doing the team any favors in its quest to keep J.T. Realmuto in Philadelphia.
The Phils and Realmuto's camp couldn't reach an agreement on an extension during baseball's extended break this summer, and now Realmuto will hit the open market as a free agent this offseason - and could be poached by a hated division rival.
That's according to a report Wednesday from the Washington Post, which took a look at the Nationals' apparently sizable interest in Realmuto:
"For years, MLB has underestimated the ambition, and wallet, of the Lerners and Rizzo. Yet they keep adding huge, costly pieces at vital times. This winter, that key piece may be 2½ hours up Interstate 95 in free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, just 29 years old.
"Rizzo has coveted him for years. Think the Nats can’t get him? Well, somebody will. This week, Phillies GM Matt Klentak said, “We would love to have J.T., but when you make that trade [before the 2019 season], you’re trading for two years of control and you know that.”
"The Nationals deserve a do-over in 2021. So do we all.
"That isn’t quite “thanks and so long,” but it’s in the vicinity. If Realmuto was offered Corbin or Jayson Werth money, in the $125 million-plus range, would he become a Nat? The need for Kurt Suzuki (and his $6 million) would disappear, lightening the hit.
"The Nats always have Plans A, B and C, so Realmuto will probably only be one of them. But as this grisly year ends, only one overview should stay in mind: Fix the roster, keep the culture, and try again."
Oh boy. Can you imagine a repeat Jayson Werth scenario, losing a star and then having to face him numerous times each season for the forseeable future? No fun!
And losing Realmuto to a team like the Mets would hurt, too, but after Patrick Corbin signed with the Nats instead of the Phillies last offseason, while the Phils stole Bryce Harper, there's a bit of a war over star players growing between the two squads.
Realmuto, 29, might be the best catcher in baseball, both defensively and offensively. He's slashing .267/.357/.527 this year, and is on pace for career-highs in home runs and RBIs, were this a normal 162-game season.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, the Phils were at one point willing to pay Realmuto roughly $23 million over at least four years. But if he gets similar, or higher, offers elsewhere, and feels he'd fit better with another organization, he might be gone - and that would hurt.