As reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network, George Springer is a passed physical away from becoming a Toronto Blue Jay. Believe it or not, that’s good news for the Phillies. While the Phils were never in the running for Springer, their division rival certainly was. In fact, until his fate became clearer Tuesday night, the Mets were widely believed to be the frontrunner for Springer’s services.
And if Phillies fans weren’t already grinning at the thought of Springer leaving New York at the altar, that’s not even the best part. The biggest threat to Philadelphia re-signing All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto has always been Toronto, though with the Jays already investing nine figures on Springer, it seems unlikely they’d be able to afford both. With Toronto no longer a realistic landing spot, the Phillies should be looked at as the heavy favorites to land Realmuto, a two-time All-Star and arguably the top catcher in all of baseball. Per Heyman, the Phillies’ current offer is for about $110 million, a good chunk of change for a player entering his age-30 season.
It’s been a slow winter for free agents amid the mounting financial strain of COVID-19 and uncertainty surrounding MLB’s soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement, though teams have begun to show a greater sense of urgency with spring training nearing (as they say, deadlines spur action). Others have been linked to Realmuto including the Nationals, Rangers and Astros, the latter two being the closest teams to his native Oklahoma. However, it’s hard to see any of those clubs matching the aggressive dollar amount put forth by Philadelphia.
A two-time Silver Slugger and one-time Gold Glove recipient, Realmuto joined the Phillies in a trade with Miami—the team he spent his first five seasons with—months prior to the 2019 season. He set career-highs in home runs (25), RBI (83), doubles (36) and runs scored (92) that year and was similarly productive during the COVID-abbreviated 2020 campaign (.266/.349/.491 in 173 at-bats). Among MLB’s 30 franchises, only the Mariners have a longer active playoff drought (19 seasons) than the Phillies, who haven’t competed in October since 2011.