Since being acquired from Miami in February of 2019, fans and teammates alike have considered J.T. Realmuto to be amongst the best catchers in baseball, or BCIB for short. His offensive capabilities paired with his strong defensive presence behind the dish would surely present many teams with an upgrade should he sign with them. The Phillies are not the only team in the mix. Numerous clubs would love to have his services, especially considering the drop off in the rest of the market. Both the Nationals and Blue Jays have been linked to the Silver Slugger in recent weeks. Should he sign elsewhere, the organization’s depth at catcher could be in question.
The clear front runner to take over the starting role at the big league level would be Andrew Knapp. Knapp, a switch hitter, has spent the better part of the last half-decade as the team’s back up. Despite a solid offensive showing during the shortened 2020 campaign, the 29-year-old has never shown much with the bat. His offensive woes aside, the pitching staff has raved about his game-calling, and he has worked well with quite a few of our starters throughout the years. He has worked incredibly well with Zach Eflin, who has attributed some of his recent success on the mound to Knapp. I would be very surprised if someone other than Knapp or Realmuto was behind home plate come Opening Day 2021.
Outside of Knapp, the Phillies seem to be high on another switch-hitter, 21-year-old Rafael Marchan. The young backstop made his MLB debut this past summer, but has yet to play in a minor league game above A-Ball. I feel he could benefit from some more time in the minors, where he could develop his game. Another name to keep in the back of our minds is Christian Bethancourt. The former Braves farmhand hasn’t accumulated a big-league at-bat since 2017 with San Diego. Despite this fact, the Phillies re-signed him to a minor league contract earlier this winter. He could have a chance to crack the 26-man roster, especially if Realmuto leaves town.
In my lifetime, I have been blessed to see some of the best catchers in franchise history suite up for the Phillies. Mike Lieberthal and Carlos Ruiz are just a few that come to mind. However, even they don’t compare to the type of player that Realmuto has been, and may continue to be for years to come. Retaining J.T. has to remain a top priority, especially when the options in-house, and in free agency are lacking.