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Realmuto declines Phils' qualifying offer

@ToddZolecki
November 11, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies never expected J.T. Realmuto to accept their one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer. He formally rejected it on Wednesday when the 5 p.m. ET deadline passed. Realmuto was one of six free agents to receive a qualifying offer from their respective teams. The Mets’ Marcus Stroman and

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies never expected J.T. Realmuto to accept their one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer.

He formally rejected it on Wednesday when the 5 p.m. ET deadline passed.

Realmuto was one of six free agents to receive a qualifying offer from their respective teams. The Mets’ Marcus Stroman and the Giants’ Kevin Gausman accepted their offers. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu and George Springer all declined. It changes little for the backstop, who remains free to sign with any team, including the Phillies, this offseason.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Phillies still hope to re-sign Realmuto, but team officials have been publicly pessimistic about their chances for months, until president Andy MacPhail offered a sliver of hope a couple of weeks ago. Realmuto is seeking a record-setting contract for a catcher, and so far Philadelphia has balked at the price. Of course, negotiations always begin with the team starting low and the player starting high. Perhaps the parties can find common ground.

How did the Phillies get to this point? They were confident last winter that they would keep Realmuto in Philadelphia for a long time. They were so confident, in fact, that they delayed extension talks until after his salary arbitration hearing in February. They planned to sign Realmuto to a one-year deal in 2020, which would benefit them for luxury-tax purposes, then sign him to a multiyear extension before the end of Spring Training.

But the plan didn’t work. The Phillies soon learned that re-signing Realmuto would not be as easy as they predicted. Even before the pandemic hit in March, their timeline to extend him before Opening Day evaporated. After the pandemic hit, negotiations grew more complicated as the team cited the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Experts agree Realmuto going to THIS team

The Phillies still seem to believe that Realmuto will not find a deal to his liking in the open market, which would keep them in the running. But Tuesday’s press conference with new Mets owner Steve Cohen could be cause for concern. The Mets are searching for a catcher, and Cohen sounds willing to spend.

If Realmuto signs with the Mets or somebody else, the Phillies will receive a compensation pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2021 MLB Draft. It will be a small consolation prize because Realmuto easily is the best catcher on the market, and the Phils do not have an internal replacement for him. Plus, there is the sting of trading Sixto Sánchez, Jorge Alfaro, Will Stewart and international bonus pool money to the Marlins in February 2019 to acquire him.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .