On Tuesday afternoon, MLB Insider Jon Heyman provided both good and bad news about J.T. Realmuto.
The good news: his mild hip flexor strain was deemed not that serious, and he is day-to-day.
The bad news: he might be the center of a bidding war this offseason between the Phillies… and the Mets.
Ken Rosthenal also identified the Mets, Yankees and Rangers as possible suitors for the all-star catcher.
The Mets interest in Realmuto is not new. The team supposedly pursued him before the 2019 season and his former work relationship with GM Brodie Van Wagenen at CAA (Realmuto's agency) is a clear link to the two sides. On top of this, the Wilpons finally agreed to sell the Mets to Steve Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager who will be the MLB's richest owner.
For comparisons sake, Cohen's fortunes triple John Middleton's net worth.
The Mets haven't carried a payroll in the game's top 10 since 2011 in large part because of Bernnie Madoff Ponzi scheme, which the Wilpons and their companies were heavily invested in. Cohen, a New York native, bought a minority stake that same year. Since then, they have seen three winning seasons, including a World Series appearance in 2015.
The connections and deep pockets make the Mets a real contender to sign Realmuto. That's not a great sign for the Phillies. Bryce Harper and the fanbase have passionately called for the Phillies to "Sign JT" and the emergence of the Marlins super pitcher Sixto Sanchez puts an added weight on the front office to not come up empty handed after dealing their top prospect.
Those factors are the perfect storm for a market that might otherwise stay quiet this offseason.
It's unlikely we will find out the full extend of losses for the MLB and their franchises, but certainly a blue chip player like Realmuto get a handsome payday.
The catcher is expected to receive a contract north of $100 million, and his camp has offered "subtle clues" that it considers Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt's five-year, $130 million contract as a reasonable comparison.
It's hard to see why Realmuto wouldn't entertain the highest bidder this offseason instead of settling for a hometown deal. For one, he is looking to "raise the bar" on catchers' salaries. The Phillies have also been mediocre over his two year stint with the team. Realmuto painted a pessimistic picture of negotiations before the season started, and Klentak's comments about a different economic "landscape" with the onset of the pandemic indicates that the two sides might be farther apart than we think.
In any case, Realmuto is going to get paid like the best catcher in baseball because he is that, and if the Phillies don't saddle up right now away to sign him, the Mets will be close behind.