The Phillies played without J.T. Realmuto in the starting lineup for an 11th straight game Monday night.
Could it be a harbinger of things to come?
Realmuto will become a free agent in the coming weeks. The Phillies have long stated their love for the All-Star catcher and their desire to sign him to a contract extension.
But will one get done?
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak didn't sound like a man brimming with confidence when Realmuto's name came up in a video news conference Monday afternoon.
Klentak was asked if pitcher Sixto Sanchez' dazzling work with the Miami Marlins in recent weeks had increased pressure to get a deal done with Realmuto. Sanchez, you'll recall, is the former Phillies pitching prospect who headlined the package of players that the Phillies sent to Miami for Realmuto in February 2019.
"Look, what I've said all along is we would love to have J.T. here, but when you make that trade, you're trading for two years of control and you know that," Klentak said. "Sixto looked really good against us. He's looked good this year. But we've had two very productive years of J.T. as well."
Or should we say: Whoa.
That comment wouldn't exactly leave you running to the souvenir stand to purchase a Phillies jersey with Realmuto's name on the back, would it?
In fact, the comment seemed to be tinged with a touch of finality.
Who knows? Maybe Klentak was just playing possum. Maybe he has a good feeling about getting a deal done with Realmuto this offseason and was just sticking with his personal policy of not commenting on negotiations. But to some ears, "We've had two very productive years of J.T. as well," didn't sound like a comment coming from a man preparing to hold a press conference to announce a signing any time soon, or at all.
Revenues have taken a hit in the game this year because of COVID-19 and the field of suitors for Realmuto this winter might be limited. But the teams that will be in it all have the kind of big money that Realmuto is looking for. Those teams include the Mets, Yankees, Astros and possibly Dodgers. Phillies, too. They'll be in it. The question is: Will they win it?
Realmuto has been out of the starting lineup for 11 straight games because of a hip/quad strain. Manager Joe Girardi said it was possible that Realmuto could return to the starting lineup Tuesday.
The Phillies hope his 11-game absence wasn't a preview of what life will be like next year. If it is, there was always those two productive years that Klentak mentioned Monday.