Bryce Harper: Phillies “need” to make JT Realmuto extension happen

J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Bryce Harper let the Phillies know what he really thinks about J.T. Realmuto

Speaking with NBC Sports Philadelphia Phillies reporter Jim Salisbury over the weekend, Bryce Harper touched on a lot of different topics, including that of signing teammate JT Realmuto to a long term extension.

While acknowledging that any sort of deal cannot be worked on at the moment due to the league-wide suspension of team-related activities, Harper spoke on the importance of keeping Realmuto in Philadelphia.

"“He’s the best catcher in baseball. He’s a great person. He’s a great family man. He’s a guy that we need in our clubhouse… I want him more than anything, so I mean it’s something we need to make happen as an organization.”"

Currently, Realmuto is scheduled to hit free agency following the conclusion of the 2020 MLB season. Regardless of how this year takes place, whether baseball is played or not, Realmuto’s contract will expire no matter what. Being labeled as the “best catcher in baseball” by both Harper and fans around the world, Realmuto would command a massive price tag on the open market.

Coming off the best season of his career, Realmuto’s bidding war could potentially rival that of other top-level free agents in 2021 like Mookie Betts and Marcus Stroman. If the Phillies have plans of locking up Realmuto for the remainder of his baseball career (they likely do), getting an extension done before he hits the open market is imperative.

Realmuto had a monster year in 2019, setting career-highs in home runs, RBIs, doubles, and walks. He was selected to his second All-Star game in a row, and also won his second consecutive “Silver Slugger” award.

While Realmuto was fantastic at the plate in his first year as a Phillie, it doesn’t even compare to his abilities on the defensive side of things. Winning his first career Gold Glove, Realmuto led the league with a caught stealing rate of 47%. Many fans felt he should’ve won the league’s “Platinum Glove” award as well.

Currently, the Phillies are pressed right up against the luxury tax, hence why the team opted to go into arbitration with Realmuto this past offseason. While this upset some fans, Realmuto seemed more level-headed about the situation when questioned.

“What we went through in arbitration, what we went through in the hearing, doesn’t change anything from my outlook.”

With close to $60 million dollars expected to come off the books in terms of contracts heading into 2021 (Arrieta, Robertson, Bruce, Gregorius), there should be plenty of money available for the Phillies to get an extension done with Realmuto. After trading away their top pitching prospect to land him, it seems quite unlikely that the Phillies don’t have plans to make the “best catcher in baseball” the highest paid catcher in baseball.

Throw in the fact that the team’s franchise superstar in Bryce Harper has pretty loudly expressed his desire to keep Realmuto around, it seems to be a matter of “when” not “if” on a Realmuto mega-extension.