The Philadelphia Phillies completed their season on Sunday, losing 5-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays en route to a 28-32 record and a ninth consecutive missed postseason. Afterward, outfielder Bryce Harper -- who, by the way, entered the season's final day with a 157 OPS+, the second-highest of his career -- held court with the press and made some interesting remarks as it pertains to impending free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto and general manager Matt Klentak.
On Realmuto, Harper said that he "needs to be our catcher next season. Plain and simple. I don't think that should even be a question," according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Harper also made a point of saying that a few other National League East teams -- the Washington Nationals and New York Mets presumably among them -- would likely attempt to poach Realmuto from the Phillies if he were permitted to hit the open market.
The Phillies have had since they acquired Realmuto from the Miami Marlins in February 2019 to hash out an extension. The two sides never agreed on terms, and now it seems certain that Realmuto will reach free agency. That doesn't mean the Phillies are out on him -- indeed, they might believe the financial uncertainty stemming from the pandemic will result in him signing a contract worth less than his current ask -- but it's understandable why Harper (and the rest of Philadelphia) would be concerned about potentially losing him to another team.
Realmuto is, after all, one of the best catchers in baseball. He's hit .274/.335/.489 over the last three seasons, and has done so while improving his defense.
Whereas Harper was adamant about wanting back Realmuto, he was more measured when asked if he thought Klentak should get another year to field a winner. "I mean, I'm not an owner," Harper said, per The Athletic's Matt Gelb. "I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions."
Harper may not feel qualified to analyze Klentak's work, but his results since taking over in October 2015 suggest the seat underneath him ought to be warm. The Phillies have authored no winning seasons in five tries on his watch.
Regardless of who is (or isn't) the Phillies' GM this winter, you can bet that Harper will be lobbying them to re-sign Realmuto.