In the words of the Phillies’ own Dave Dombrowski, “every offseason is different.” This offseason, a combination of a growing trend of teams wanting to wait players out causing them to settle for a lower contract combined with losses from the pandemic have created a very slow market. Philadelphia has made small splashes while watching big pieces go off the table. But there is still one important piece yet to go off the table: J.T. Realmuto.
Though the two sides have had the better part of two years to lock down a long-term agreement, they have yet to close the deal. And while the Phillies have reportedly made a strong offer, the deal remains open, allowing other teams such as the Braves to “circle in” on Realmuto. And if there’s one thing about negotiating deals that I learned in my Professional Selling in Sports course in college (Thanks Dr. Smucker), it is this:
Always. Be. Closing.
A staple of the sales industry dating back to the film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), this mantra cuts to the core of the Phillies’ fatal flaw in the case of Realmuto. They have not been closing the deal. Sure, the Phillies underwent a front-office makeover this offseason as Dombrowski took the reigns. But now, over a month in, he no longer has that excuse. The Phillies need to close the deal.
Because, for every moment the Phillies spend not getting Realmuto’s signature on that dotted line gives another team the opportunity to swoop in and steal the deal. While the front office postures with the Realmuto camp over a dollar figures, the Braves and other mystery teams are lurking in the shadows.
The Phillies Have Other Priorities
In addition to every wasted moment giving teams an opportunity to steal Realmuto, it is also a wasted moment Philadelphia could spend on other needs. The Phillies still need to re-sign Didi Gregorius. Vince Velasquez needs to be replaced with a more capable starting pitcher. And the bullpen could still use another arm, in addition to Bradley, Alvarado, and Coonrod.
As Major League Baseball inches closer to Spring Training, players will begin to settle for contracts so as to not be left out in the cold. If the Phillies remained logjammed by the Realmuto contract, then the Phillies will miss out on several potential season-defining acquisitions.
Realmuto wants a record contract as he waves the flag for underpaid catchers across the league. The Phillies can satisfy that desire by topping Joe Mauer’s record $23 million AAV. A five-year, $120 million contract would make that a reality. The Phillies need to get back to the ABC’s and close the deal.
Photo Credit: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire