A long time ago in the year of 2010, many things were happening. Lady Gaga shocked many with her outrageous style, nobody understood the ending of Inception, and Brett Farve was still playing in the NFL.
Most importantly, people wondered, “How will the Philadelphia Phillies come back from their surprising loss to the San Francisco Giants?”.
That question, unfortunately, didn’t have an answer that worked. They tried to answer it and then everything fell apart after just one year.
The Phillies really only gave one answer and his name was Cliff Lee. They brought back Lee on a 5-year $120 million contract beating out the Yankees who offered more money. Not even 2 years earlier, it was Lee who beat the Yankees in 2 games of the 2009 World Series.
The signing brought with it one major consequence.
The Phillies would not resign World Series champion Jayson Werth. Their best right-handed bat in the lineup would sign a 7-year $126 million with the Washington Nationals.
Jayson Werth would go on to hit .273 against the Phillies with 19 home runs.
For the Phillies, not signing Werth was probably the correct decision. Not addressing the hole he left cost them. To fill that right-handed hole, the Phillies traded away some of their better prospects at the time to the Astros for Hunter Pence.
The consequences were twofold; 1) The Phillies never found that right-handed bat as Pence was traded away in 2012 and 2) The Phillies farm system was drained forcing the Phillies to trade Pence and Victorino.
There are similar consequences the Phillies could find themselves in if they do not resign J.T. Realmuto. Top tier catchers are difficult to come by and the Phillies certainly do not have an in-house replacement.
Like Werth, J.T. Realmuto received MVP votes before hitting free agency. Werth did it in his last 2 seasons with the Phillies. There’s a good chance Realmuto garners votes in 2020 as well.
Also like Werth if he isn’t resigned by the Phillies, then another NL East team most likely will. Both the Mets and the Braves would surely be very interested in his services.
The next closest free-agent catcher in ability to Realmuto available would be James McCann. Defensively, he’s a strong candidate, but offensively, last season was his first with an OPS+ over 100.
With a weak free-agent class, the Phillies could be forced to trade again, weakening their farm system after already trading away Sixto Sanchez for Realmuto.
It could be years before the Phillies see another catcher like Realmuto. They would be fools not to extend him.