On Saturday, Matt Klentak stepped down from his role as the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. In nearly five years at the helm, Klentak had added stars like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler to Philadelphia's roster. He had not, however, delivered the Phillies to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The combination of those two facts had reached a tipping point in recent weeks, as the Miami Marlins were led to the playoffs by rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez, a key part of the Realmuto return in a 2019 trade to Philadelphia. Realmuto, meanwhile, is now just weeks away from hitting free agency.
Predictably, Phillies owner John Middleton took Saturday's occasion to voice his displeasure with the circumstances.
"At the time it was being considered, my position was, I'd be willing to trade Sixto as long as you extend J.T. And if you don't extend J.T., I wouldn't trade Sixto," Middleton said, according to NBC Sports. "Because we weren't at a point in the development of the team where the benefits that we were getting matched what we were giving up."
The Phillies have failed to extend Realmuto since acquiring him ahead of last season -- even as Harper made it known time and again that he expected them to do so. Whoever succeeds Klentak will now have to figure out a way to do one of two things: 1) reach a long-term agreement with Realmuto; or 2) allow Realmuto to walk while making amends with Harper.
Of course, there's still a chance the Phillies find a way to sign Realmuto. The free-agent market is likely to be chilly this winter in response to the revenue lost during the pandemic, and that could play into Philadelphia's hands as a large-market team. Whether that proves to be the case or not is to be seen.
In 192 games with the Phillies, Realmuto batted .273/.333/.492 (112 OPS+) with 36 home runs and 5.7 Wins Above Replacement. Sanchez, for his part, had a 3.46 ERA (129 ERA+) and 3.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven outings with the Marlins and pitched Miami to a Game 2 win in the Wild Card Series last week against the Cubs.