JT Realmuto offers a grim view of contract talks with the Phillies

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JT Realmuto started its first conversation with journalists since the restart of baseball with a request Thursday.

He asked that questions about his contractual status with the Phillies be kept to a minimum.

But explaining why, Realmuto said a lot.

“We were in the really preliminary stages (of negotiations) at the start of the spring training before the pandemic and we really haven’t been anywhere since then, so if we could just focus on the team here and talk a little less from me, that would be greatly appreciated, ”said the star receiver.

If you keep the score at home, these are two separate comments from two different people involved in this drama that suggest that the negotiations are not going particularly well

Ten days ago, general manager Matt Klentak, who rarely asks himself a question about the ongoing contract negotiations, proposed the following about the state of talks with the Realmuto camp:

“The landscape we left in March is different from the one we are returning to now. We just need to see how it manifests in our discussions. We still love the player. We would always love to have it in red stripes for the long haul. But there is a lot of uncertainty in the game right now at various levels. We just need to play this. ”

The opening day of the shortened 2020 season is just two weeks away. Given the tone of the two parties’ remarks, it’s hard to see the Phillies and Realmuto agree on a deal before that date. Once the season has started, Realmuto will only be a few months away from free agency, a place that elite players dream of.

Realmuto has been in a hurry over what appears to be stagnant negotiations with the Phillies.

“There is no frustration,” he said. “I understand the business of baseball. I’m here to play baseball and focus on the fact that this team wins and makes it to the playoffs. ”

Baseball activity in the pandemic year of 2020 means revenues are falling throughout the game. Phillies associate director John Middleton, in an email to club employees on June 1, said that l were ready to lose “well over 100 million” this season.

Realmuto, 29, has long said he is looking to dramatically raise the salary bar for all wrestlers in his next contract – whether with the Phillies or in the open market. Something rivaling Joe Mauer’s average salary of $ 23 million – a record for a receiver – in the form of a multi-year deal seemed to be the starting point for Realmuto and it really did not seem unreasonable during the winter.

Then the pandemic struck. The game has stopped. Even when the games return in two weeks, there will be no fans in the stands. The “door” represents around 40% of the income generated by most teams. Teams will earn televised revenues when the shortened 60-game season begins in two weeks, but who knows if the season will be over with COVID-19 in a number of baseball states, and who knows if there will even be any. fans in the stands next season. The world is asking for a vaccine. The next free agent class in baseball is asking for a vaccine.

Realmuto is concerned about how “the new landscape” will affect the overall market for independent agents this winter, but personally is not deterred by the prospect of hitting the market.

“It really concerns me,” he said. “Obviously not for me, but this concerns me for the free class as a whole. I mentioned a few months ago that the best guys usually find a way to get their money. The teams are going to want it, you know. Maybe if not 20 teams are on you, now there will be five to 10. I just think a lot of teams will be able to take this as a time to enjoy it and actually go there. instead of supporting from. As half of the league will likely try to cut income and save money, the rest will see an advantage in moving forward. I think it could affect free agency as a whole, but for me, I’m not really too worried about it. ”

Even though negotiations were not progressing, Realmuto expressed his affection for the organization of the Phillies.

“My opinion of the organization has not changed at all,” he said. “I love this organization. They have been great for me and my family since my arrival. From top to bottom, they are just good people and they care about baseball, and that is really important to me. ”

It is entirely possible that Realmuto and the Phillies will find a way to conclude a long-term marriage. Baseball negotiations can endure painful moments and end up with everyone happy. But no baseball bargaining has ever had to play against a pandemic that bleed the game. If that pandemic had struck 18 months ago, Relamuto teammate Bryce Harper probably wouldn’t have won a contract $ 330 million.

Harper wants Realmuto to stay with the Phillies. He wants him to be paid. He said it clearly when he shouted, “Sign it!” Wednesday during an inter-team match at Citizens Bank Park.

“I hope he has a team one day, honestly,” said Realmuto. “I might be able to catch up to my 60s if he has a team.

“Honestly, everything is fun. I appreciate the mutual support and respect there. He has a little fun with that so it doesn’t bother me too much.

“From the audience’s point of view, I don’t mind how much we talk about it. For me, I’m going to focus on this season and help help this team win and that’s really all I can do. “

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