Bryce Harper: ‘Sad’ if Phillies don’t re-sign J.T. Realmuto

Bryce Harper #3 and J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 and J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Phillies OF Bryce Harper says it would be ‘sad’ if J.T. Realmuto isn’t brought back

The Philadelphia Phillies’ first workout of summer camp is in the books. From bullpen sessions to batting practice, the sights and sounds of Major League Baseball officially and finally returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since the conclusion of the 2019 season in late September.

Among the topics currently surrounding the Phillies extends far beyond to just how the team will perform on the baseball diamond in an unprecedented 60-game season, but also whether they will re-sign All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is currently set to enter free agency for the first time of his career this fall.

Realmuto’s friend and teammate, star outfielder Bryce Harper, has been a strong supporter in the push his new contract. Harper came to camp this week donning a white Realmuto shirsey, and wore it once again on Friday during the first official full-squad workout.

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Harper was silent about the subject at first, using only his shirsey as a subliminal message; following Friday’s workout, however, he followed up with some verbal thoughts.

“If the Phillies don’t end up signing him back, it would be terrible, it would be sad,” Harper told reporters on a Zoom call. “Everybody in this organization wants to see him in red pinstripes for the rest of his career. Hopefully we can make that happen.”

It has been recently reported that the Phillies are willing to give J.T. Realmuto a record contract in terms of average annual value for catchers.

In conversation with reporters on Monday, however, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak set expectations in that the team is not close to an agreement with Realmuto. Klentak reminded of the transaction freeze that took place over the past three and a half months, and that the team has recently prioritized intake COVID-19 screenings, so he still yet to touch base with the catcher and his agent.

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And, due to the uncertainty, talks may not progress much further to a finish line in the near future, either:

“We still love the player. We’d still would love to have him in red pinstripes for the long haul, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the game right now on a variety of levels, so we just need to factor that all in,” Klentak said. “I wish I had a more concrete timeframe to give you, but I think we just need to play that out because I don’t know the answer.”

Klentak continued: “The landscape we left in March is different from the landscape now. We have to see how that manifests itself. We still love the player and want to have him for the longhaul. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We need to factor that in.”

If the Phillies give Realmuto a record deal, it would mean they would have more than $100 million committed to five players next season: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and Zack Wheeler. It appears Harper is doing whatever it takes to make sure this can come true for 2021 and beyond.