Bryce Harper says Phillies must re-sign J.T. Realmuto
By Matt Rappa
Bryce Harper made it clear again on Sunday that he wants J.T. Realmuto in a Phillies uniform beyond 2020
In March 2019, outfielder Bryce Harper said he signed a 13-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies to bring at least a third World Series championship to the City of Brotherly Love. So far, through two of those seasons, the Phillies have failed to even reach the postseason to even make that promise a possibility.
As the saying goes, the third try could be the charm for Harper and the Phillies. But, will it come with now-free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto? The six-time All-Star reinforced on Sunday that he expects Realmuto to be his teammate in 2021.
Following the team’s season finale shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Harper made his wish clear, telling reporters that “Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year. Plain and simple.”
Harper continued that anyone who is the best at their position, hitting and fielding, “needs to be signed … and that is J.T. Realmuto.”
As far as making sure his general manager, Matt Klentak, returns beyond 2020, Harper was not as supportive: “I’m not an owner,” he said. “I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.”
Back in late July, Harper noted that he structured his contract to help the Phillies bring in and keep high-impact players on the team, including Realmuto.
“That’s why I lengthened it out for as long as I did,” Harper added. “Hopefully we can get that deal done to the best of our ability. … I just want to be able to set this organization up for the long haul and try to win as many games as we can and back to the good days of ’08 and ’09 and winning [the] World Series.”
The Phillies have money coming off the books this year, with expiring contracts other than just Realmuto — players such as Jake Arrieta and David Robertson, among others. There is also Didi Gregorius, but re-signing the star shortstop should be priority 1-A for the Phillies, behind Realmuto.
The offseason has begun. The Phillies will not play a game against another opponent until their 2021 spring training opener on February 27 — exactly five months from their disappointing season finale. Time will tell just how different the team will look from now to then.