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November 13, 2020

J.T. Realmuto officially declines Phillies qualifying offer

...which could help them sign him

Phillies MLB
JT-Realmuto_073019_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto

For those who are knowledgable about such things, J.T. Realmuto rejecting the Phillies' $18.6 million qualifying offer comes as no surprise. The All-Star catcher will make more than than annually somewhere — be it in Philadelphia or with another team — and should be able to get himself as much job security as he desires beyond a single solitary season.

But the rejection, which became official on Thursday, actually helps the Phillies just a little bit in their pursuit of a reunion for years to come. And here's why.

Whichever non-Philly team signs Realmuto will have to part with one of their top draft picks. It's one of the reasons the Phillies had to put on the breaks in recent years when considering signing certain available players in free agency. It's also one of the many reasons they've seen their prospect reserves depleted over the last half dozen seasons, as they've parted with picks to ink big-name players, like they did after nabbing Zack Wheeler last year.

Other teams, like the Mets and Yankees, may give pause, as Realmuto is one of just four total players to have turned down the qualifying offer and who now carry with them high draft compensation. Trevor Bauer, D.J. LeMahieu, and George Springer are the other three.

The following teams lost second round picks in the last three seasons:

YearTeam
2020Phillies
2020Braves
2020
Diamondbacks
2020
Yankees
2020
Angels
2019
Nationals 
2019Dodgers
2018Orioles
2018Brewers
2018Padres
2018Phillies
2018Twins


The Phillies are the only team to have lost draft picks in two different classes since 2018 for signing free agents who turned down qualifying offers. The Yankees, who are in hot pursuit of Realmuto by all accounts, would stand to become the second.

The 2018 pick surrendered was from signing Carlos Santana, by the way. And the 2020 pick they lost? Well, it would have been the third pick in Round 2 — which theoretically would have given them a pretty good chance at drafting a very good player. Wheeler was lights out in his first season in Philly, but the jury is still out (as it is on the Phillies decision to trade Sixto Sanchez for two seasons of Realmuto).

Just how much this will factor into the other players in the Realmuto sweepstakes is anyone's guess, but we do know for sure that it will at least add a hurdle for other teams, and will benefit the Phillies — who currently have long odds to win the 2021 World Series (+3000 according to TheLines.com's consensus odds).

As we do each day in the fall, here's our live stream and open thread as MLB's free agency continues:

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