Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler praise All-Star Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler have both been singing the praises of catcher J.T. Realmuto as of late, and understandably so.
Harper has made sure his thoughts are heard on Realmuto becoming a free agent this upcoming fall. Earlier this season, in a summer camp intrasquad game, Harper crossed home plate and walked to the dugout before exclaiming, “Sign him!” He was on first base when Realmuto hit a two-run home run off of Cole Irvin.
John Middleton, Phillies managing partner, spoke to NBC Sports Philadelphia about Harper’s obvious desire to have Realmuto re-signed with the Phillies.
After being asked if Harper has put pressure on the Phillies to finalize a deal with Realmuto, Middleton replied:
“No,” Middleton said. “Listen, one of the things I love about Bryce is his competitiveness. And, in fact, it’s what makes him a great player, coupled with his innate ability. It’s what makes him a great teammate. We all recognize that. It’s a big reason the fans love him, because he’s so competitive.”
Middleton continued, also mentioning some of the Phillies’ top prospects (one of which could pitch this weekend):“I think this is just an expression of his competitiveness. He wants to surround himself with the best players. Who wouldn’t? And he’s not just saying it about J.T. He’s saying, ‘Bring up Spencer Howard. Bring up Alec Bohm.’ He wants the best players here. That’s understandable so I have no problem with Bryce’s comments.”
Wheeler has also recently voiced his own praises for Realmuto. After Wheeler’s performance in Game 1 of the recent doubleheader against the New York Yankees, he said:
“Playing against him all these years, I was wishing he was my catcher and now he is. That was part of me coming over here, and I love throwing to him.”
Wheeler went on to add, “Against a lineup like the Yankees, you have to make pitches. Me and J.T. were on the same page all day. He can call a game and that’s what you need back there.”
Realmuto undoubtedly has the support of these two teammates. This should help in renewed talks come this fall when he is a free agent — or even prior if the two sides engage in talks before he hits the open market.