PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski named Sam Fuld his general manager on Tuesday, but it took no time for the questions to turn to the most important topic for Phillies fans this offseason:
So, Dave, what’s up with J.T. Realmuto?
“Well, his agent actually called me yesterday,” said Dombrowski, referring to CAA’s Jeff Berry. “It really was not a negotiation. It was a welcome to the Phillies organization. I’ve known Jeff Berry for a long time, and I talked to him and he welcomed me aboard and we talked about my family and we talked about his family and we said we would stay in contact. I expressed to him again how much we would love to have J.T. on board and that’s where it really ended at that point.”
Dombrowski said it was the first time he has spoken with Berry since he took the job with Philadelphia a couple weeks ago.
“I don’t read anything into it other than I’ve known him a long time and he reached out to me,” Dombrowski said about Berry. “I guess the good part is that we continue to have cordial conversations. And being fortunate enough to be in the organization in which he represents a quality player. It also makes it very simple for me to tell him how much we’d love to have him.”
The Phillies maintain re-signing Realmuto is a top priority, but they also acknowledge they are cutting payroll.
Can they re-sign Realmuto under those circumstances? He is seeking a record-setting contract for a catcher, and the Phillies also have holes in the bullpen, rotation, outfield and at shortstop.
“We’ll fill as many holes as we possibly can,” Dombrowski said. “Our bullpen wasn’t very good last year and there’s a lot of spots out there to fill. So some of them are going to have to come from an internal perspective no matter what, or some opportunities to people that are not going to be high-salaried individuals by any means. We’ll do as much as we can. I’ve talked to some clubs, reaching out to me just finding out where they are. But I really haven’t had a lot of active trade conversations either. Some of them could come from that route also.”
Dombrowski said the Phillies have had conversations with free-agent relievers. His sense is that nothing is close yet.
“You never know about those things,” he said. “My instincts are no, but could somebody call you back and say, ‘Hey, we want to join the Phillies?’ Maybe they will. I can’t say we’re close to anybody.”
But something must happen at some point, because very few moves have been made as Christmas approaches. The Phillies have made only three additions to the 40-man roster: They selected infielder Kyle Holder in the Rule 5 Draft and claimed pitchers Ian Hamilton and Johan Quezada off waivers.
“Well, we’re not just one player away,” Dombrowski said about trading prospects to make roster upgrades. “So we’re not going to be giving [away] many Minor League players from our system at this structure where we are for a player. We want to build through the system, use as many of the guys as we can. It doesn’t mean we won’t trade certain players if we think it’s a good deal for us. But we’re not looking to empty our farm system for a specific player at this time.”