The Phillies’ offseason got bleaker Sunday afternoon.
The team reportedly declined to extend a one-year $18.9 million qualifying offer to Didi Gregorius, according to MLB.com, which means the shortstop’s tenure in Philadelphia is likely done. The Phillies did make a qualifying offer to catcher J.T. Realmuto, MLB.com reported.
Teams had until 5 p.m. Sunday to make a qualifying offer. A team must make a free agent a qualifying offer to receive draft compensation if that player signs with another club.
Players who receive offers have 10 days whether to accept or reject the offer. The player can negotiate with other teams during that window.
Teams that sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer must forfeit a draft pick. Free agents who do not receive a qualifying offer can be signed without penalty, making them more attractive in some cases.
Gregorius played in all 60 games and batted .284 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in the just-completed COVID-19 shortened season. Despite those numbers, few baseball experts expected the Phillies to make Gregorius a qualifying offer.
Both Phillies managing partner John Middleton and team president Andy MacPhail have made no secret about the impact the new coronavirus has had on the team’s finances.
With the free agent market expected to be unpredictable because of revenue losses from COVID-19, Philadelphia probably didn’t want to take the chance that Gregorius, who earned $14 million, would accept the offer and the $4.9 million raise.
The Phillies also have options at shortstop with Jean Segura and Scott Kingery.
Realmuto will almost certainly decline the Phillies’ qualifying offer and seek a multi-year deal. Realmuto, who is considered the best catcher in baseball, batted .266 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 47 games last season.
MacPhail remained hopeful Friday that Philadelphia could re-sign Realmuto.
“There are two things we’ve got going for us,” MacPhail said. “The first is, I think he enjoyed his time here and obviously we want him back, so I think those two things give you some measure of hope.
“In any offseason, there are an amazing amount of variables and you can just multiply that exponentially this offseason. But as long as the player enjoyed his time here and the team has a legitimate interest in bringing him back there is that possibility.”
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