The free agent market at catcher has become particularly thin, especially since the Mets just signed James McCann to a contract worth $40 million over four years. That leaves the top catcher in the market still out there, J.T. Realmuto. But where will he sign?
The is no question that the 29-year-old catcher, J.T. Realmuto, will drastically improve any team. Realmuto hit .266 with 11 home runs and a .491 slugging percentage in 47 games. In addition, Realmuto was excellent behind the plate and significantly more athletic that other catchers, displaying enough speed to steal some bases. About the only downside is that Realmuto rarely walks, an indication to his aggressiveness at the plate.
One team still in the mix is the incumbent Philadelphia Phillies. The team needs Realmuto back and team president Dave Dombrowski indicates the team is interested. The Phillis are expected to be about $60 million under the salary cap, and can afford Realmuto if they want to dig deep into that total. It appears the proposition is 50-50 whether or not the Phillies make a serious play to bring J.T. Realmuto back.
The Toronto Blue Jays could be the favorites at this point. The team is filled with a group of young players and could use veteran leadership and production. Toronto has considerable depth behind the plate, but clearly Realmuto would be a significant upgrade. The Toronto Blue Jays have other roster needs as well to improve an already solid team that made the playoffs last season.
Also in the mix are the Washington Nationals. This is largely to the fact that the team plummeted last season after winning the World Series in 2019. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo will likely go all out to win now, and catcher is one area of concern. Kurt Suzuki is a free agent and the other catcher, Yan Gomes, while solid, isn’t nearly the player that Realmuto is.
Longshot teams include the Cardinals, who are probably going to lose Yadier Molina, but are unlikely to spend the amount Realmuto will command. The Astros and Yankees could be in the mix, but in the case of the Yankees, would mean they move past Gary Sanchez, who struggled badly last year.
At this point, it looks like the Blue Jays are the likely place for Realmuto to sign, unless the Phillies decide it’s worth their money to dig deep into their salary cap. If they do, J.T. Realmuto will extend his career in Philadelphia, where he really wants to be anyway. The ball is in the Phillies court, so to speak. Will they come up with the money or will Realmuto sign with Toronto? Stay tuned!