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Phillies' decisions on J.T., Didi, still looming

Club declines options on right-handers Neris, Phelps, Robertson
@ToddZolecki
October 30, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- The next couple of days will be busy for the Phillies. Sunday is the deadline to issue one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offers to free agents like catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius, and exercise or decline club options. On Friday, the Phillies took the first step, announcing

PHILADELPHIA -- The next couple of days will be busy for the Phillies.

Sunday is the deadline to issue one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offers to free agents like catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius, and exercise or decline club options. On Friday, the Phillies took the first step, announcing that they declined club options for right-handers Héctor Neris, David Phelps and David Robertson.

Sunday is also the day that free agents can begin signing with other teams, although the expectation following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season is that the market will be slow to develop.

In other words, don’t worry about Realmuto signing with the Mets in the next couple of days.

The Phillies are expected to make Realmuto a qualifying offer, which he has 10 days to accept or reject. He almost certainly will reject it. If he accepts it, he is no longer a free agent and is signed to a one-year deal.

Inbox: Will Phillies likely re-sign Realmuto?

Realmuto has his heart set on much more than $18.9 million. He is seeking a record-breaking contract for a catcher in the $200 million range. Based on public comments over the past few weeks, the Phillies are not interested in approaching that number. Privately, they are betting that no other team approaches it, either. If they are correct, then the Phils could still re-sign Realmuto, which would make Bryce Harper and many others happy.

If the Phillies are incorrect, oh boy.

If Realmuto rejects the offer and signs elsewhere, the Phillies will receive Draft pick compensation. It would be a small consolation prize after trading Sixto Sánchez to Miami in February 2019 to get Realmuto. They also will need to find another catcher. The next best option in free agency might be James McCann.

What to know: Phillies 2020 offseason FAQ

What about Gregorius? In any other year, it seems likely the Phillies would make a qualifying offer to him, too. But these are not ordinary times. We already know the Indians declined Brad Hand’s $10 million club option and the Braves declined Darren O’Day’s $3.5 million club option. Yes, they are relief pitchers while Gregorius is a shortstop, but it sure indicates that teams will spend less money this offseason. The Phils might feel $18.9 million is too much for Gregorius, even for one year. They could decline the offer and try to re-sign him for less.

If the Phillies don’t, they will need to find another shortstop, unless they plan to play Jean Segura or Scott Kingery there in 2021.

Phelps ($4.5 million) and Robertson ($12 million) became free agents after Philadelphia declined their options. Neris ($7 million), however, remains on the 40-man roster because he is eligible for salary arbitration.

But based on the patterns of the first few days following the World Series, there could be more than a few quality players unexpectedly hitting the market by Sunday. That already includes relievers like Hand and O’Day, who could help the Phillies’ bullpen.

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