PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Bryce Harper didn’t mince any words after the Phillies’ season came to an end with a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. He wants J.T. Realmuto back with the Phillies in 2021.
“J.T. Realmuto needs to be our catcher next year. Plain and simple. He’s the best catcher in baseball. He’s the best hitting catcher in baseball,” Harper said Sunday. “Our guys love to throw to him. If that’s (Zack) Wheeler. If that’s (Aaron) Nola. If that’s anybody. Anybody who’s the best at their position, hitting and fielding, needs to be signed, and that’s J.T. Realmuto.
“I don’t think that should even be a question or anything. Because there’s going to be two teams or three teams in the NL East who are going to after that guy, and if that happens, that’s going to be tough to swallow for us.”
Harper didn’t just save his words for a Zoom press conference. He took his message to Instagram.
The Phillies’ star captioned a photo of him with Realmuto with, “10. Was a pleasure. Let’s run it back!!🤟🏼”
A quick look at the comments shows first baseman Rhys Hoskins commenting with, “Ten 🙏.”
Realmuto will become a free agent after the World Series, and it was no secret before Sunday how Harper felt. In July, Harper yelled “sign him” after Realmuto homered during an intrasquad game. He wore a Realmuto T-shirt and even made a signing gesture as he crossed home plate after a Realmuto homer.
In his second season with the Phils, Realmuto slugged 11 home runs and drove in 32 runs while hitting .265. He carries with him the reputation of being the best catcher in baseball, both offensively and defensively, and it cost the Phils a potential future ace in Sixto Sanchez to acquire him. Letting the 29-year-old catcher walk will be a move that will bring a score of backlash from an already frustrated fanbase.
While Harper made it clear Sunday how he felt about Realmuto — both in a postgame interview and on social media — he sidestepped a question about general manager Matt Klentak’s future.
“I mean, I’m not an owner,” Harper said. “I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.”
Like Realmuto, Klentak’s future with the Phillies could be in question.
But if Realmuto isn’t back next season, the Phillies’ $330 Million Man isn’t going to be happy.
Will the Phils pay up for Realmuto? Stay tuned.