Bryce Harper continues to publicly persuade the Philadelphia Phillies into re-signing potential free agent J.T. Realmuto. Where I don’t want him to stay in the division, I’d rather him there than with the Nationals.
"“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year — plain and simple,”"
As far as the Washington Nationals are concerned, maybe they do need J.T. Realmuto. They shouldn’t want him though. Not with the price tag which is going to be attached.
If the Nationals were interested in meeting Realmuto’s salary demands, which are rumored to be in the $23M per year range, they are in a financial position to do so.
A good portion of money comes off the books this offseason, and an even larger chunk falls off next year after Max Scherzer gets his final $34.5M installment. Presumably, the team could have the one year overlap of paying both and still stay under the tax threshold, no matter where it falls next year.
With Kurt Suzuki hitting free agency in his own right, the Nationals do have a need for a catcher. Yan Gomes will be back for the final year of his contract, though the Nationals need to decide what they are going to do with him. Is he the full-time catcher? Will he platoon with another part-time catcher? Will he be relegated to a back up role?
If the Nationals were to bring in Realmuto, the best free agent catcher on the market, Gomes would see his playing time reduced drastically.
There is no need for this. While production from the catching position is a need, the funds potentially spent on Realmuto could be allocated in other areas. The team needs a starting pitcher to slot into the rotation after (if) Scherzer leaves, a left fielder who can hit for power, and a first baseman who can play every day.
When I look at the names of catchers on playoff rosters I see a bunch of guys in the Average Joe column. No offense to the players, they are durable catchers who happen to be light hitting.
Danny Jansen hit .183 this year for the Toronto Blue Jays. Michael Perez and Mike Zunino platooned for the Tampa Bay Rays, neither hit above .167. Martin Maldanado hit .215 for the Houston Astros. All four of these guys have homered in the postseason.
Yasmani Grandal scored a 4 YR/$73M deal last year with the Chicago White Sox and hit .226. His home run total was slightly higher than some of the names listed above. All to say, teams saved money going a different route, and have gotten only slightly less production.
A team can get to the playoffs with a light hitting catcher. Yes, they are tasked with handling a pitching staff well, and throwing out an attempted base stealer here and there. If they do both of these, a high batting average isn’t a necessity.
Bring in a couple second/third tier guys to compete for a job either platooning or backing up Gomes. Old friends Sandy Leon, Matt Wieters, and Wellington Castillo (while Castillo never played a game for Washington after opting out this year, he was in camp) are all available. Josh Phegley cuts down nearly a third of attempted base stealers and he’d be cheap.
Hey, Raudy Read is out of options, lets give him a whirl backing Gomes up.
All this to say, Bryce, keep on recruiting J.T., and best of luck landing him. As for my Nationals, I’m content not spending all that money at the catcher position.