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Let’s talk about that contest

You know the one I’m talking about

Division Series - Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Every year, the friendly folks over at MLB Trade Rumors grace us with their free agency predictions, and this year they’ve done it again. Yesterday, they posted what they believe will happen on the market for those that are lucky (?) enough to be open to the highest bidders. Trying to figure out what the market will look like in this pandemic affected landscape is difficult enough, let along applying it to what players could potentially make in a time when owners are all crying poor about expenses. But gosh darn it they tried!

If you’re like me and prefer the tl;dr version, here is what they predict will happen with the Phillies and some potential names that could directly impact them.

Joining the Phillies:

  • RP Liam Hendriks - 3 years, $30 million
  • C James McCann - 2 years, $20 million
  • P Garrett Richards - 2 years, $16 million

That means the Phillies would only be shelling out $66 million in guaranteed money this offseason, something that doesn’t seem particularly out of the realm of possibility considering what we’ve heard dribble from the corners of John Middleton’s mouth in recent weeks. What’s perhaps more surprising is where some others go that have some influence on what the team could do.

  • C J.T. Realmuto - 5 years, $125 million to the Mets
  • SS Didi Gregorius - 3 years, $39 million to the Reds

Glancing through the rest of the predictions, it seems like every single player of note is someone the Phillies “might be interested in”, including eight out of the first ten names on the list. However, the ones that they are putting with the team aren’t exactly earth shakers. They would, however, fill some holes on the roster, helping 2021’s version of the team and not financially breaking their back for what could be another round of historic free agency spending in 2021-22. (seriously - look at that class of free agents).

And the arguments put forth by the author of the piece actually do make a lot of sense. Each one of these players would make the team better. Whether we believe it or not, Realmuto is no longer the Phillies’ catcher and their current starter atop the depth chart is Andrew Knapp. While Knapp did have a solid season as a backup last year, McCann is an upgrade over him, a potential 2-3 WAR player. Hendriks and Richards would lend some stability to the bullpen, the team’s most clear area in need of improvement. Simply repeating what they did in a shortened 2020 would add 2-3 WAR to the ledger combined and would consequently mean fewer appearances by inferior pitchers. The net effect of both could have large ramifications on the roster. Left alone, these moves do make sense.

But hoo boy, that Realmuto contract.

If that bad boy is accurate in any way, this front office will have some ‘splainin to do.

We all know that the unwise thing to do would be to re-sign Realmuto simply because they feel they have to in order to justify the trade for Sixto Sanchez. That ship has sailed. At this point, they need to be re-signing Realmuto because it’s a smart baseball move. He’s the best catcher on the market and would improve the team at that position (remember - right now, Andrew Knapp is the starter). At $25 million AAV, that’s not something out of the realm of possibility and should not really give a team like the Phillies pause as it essentially replaces the outgoing Jake Arrieta’s spot on the ledger. Even were they to lose out on Realmuto, you see that George Springer is predicted to receive the same amount of money. It’s easy to see the team pivoting to Springer in the case of losing out on the catcher, especially at that money and that contract length.

The issue with this prediction that could cause consternation among the Phillies’ fanbase is that the expectations for signing Realmuto are so high and many have pinned the grade of “success or failure” on whether or not they do re-sign him. While yes, it would be disappointing and a large failure on the part of the front office, the moves that are predicted to happen really do make the team better. They aren’t bad moves at all. It would just be difficult to see them in a vacuum since everything feels like it is riding on what Realmuto does.

Whatever course of action the team takes this year, it’s best to look at the long-term with the team instead of comparing it to what one player decides to do. It’ll cause fewer headaches and less angst in your life.

Now, John Middleton, if you’re reading this - sign J.T. Realmuto.