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J.T. Realmuto says Phillies' contract negotiations haven't 'gone anywhere' since March

Matt Breen, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

PHILADELPHIA -- During the last four months, J.T. Realmuto has seen a global pandemic cancel spring training and a 162-game schedule shrink to just 60 games. He narrowly avoided a coronavirus outbreak at the Phillies' Clearwater, Fla., facility, forcing him to self-quarantine in South Jersey and pass a series of tests as a precaution before reporting to Citizens Bank Park for summer camp.

For Realmuto, the last four months have been eventful – except when it comes to his contract situation.

On March 5, a week before the pandemic thwarted spring training, Realmuto said there was "no update" on the long-term deal he was seeking before his final season heading into free agency. Four months later, Realmuto's status remains the same.

"We haven't really gone anywhere since then," Realmuto said after Thursday's practice at the ballpark.

The Phillies and Realmuto were not allowed to negotiate for three months, while baseball was shut down by the pandemic. Talks were permitted to resume on June 26, when MLB's roster freeze was lifted, yet negotiations have failed to heat up.

General manager Matt Klentak said at the start of summer camp "that the landscape we left in March is going to be different than the one we return to now, and we just have to see how that manifests itself in our discussions."

 

It does not sound as though the Phillies are in a rush to hammer out a deal with Realmuto 17 months after sacrificing their best prospect to acquire him

The Phillies could choose to wait until the offseason and see how the free-agent market is affected by revenues lost around the majors due to the pandemic. Perhaps they will then be able to sign Realmuto to a deal worth less than what he would have earned in March.

Realmuto, just like in the arbitration case he lost to the Phillies in February, is likely trying to set a precedent for catchers by chasing history. He could be seeking a contract that eclipses Joe Mauer's $23 million-per-year deal, which was signed in 2010 and remains the highest average annual value for a catcher.

But those numbers might be harder to reach this winter. The Phillies seem willing to find out.

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