By Mark Gallagher

Phils owner John Middleton has made it clear he was not in favor of the Phils pulling the trigger on the deal that sent Sixto Sanchez to Miami unless they could sign JT Realmuto to a contract extension. Realmuto was still under team control for two more years.

“The fact of the matter is, at the time it was being considered, my position was, I’d be willing to trade Sixto as long as you extend J.T.,” Middleton said. “And if you don’t extend J.T., I wouldn’t trade Sixto. 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.”

Middleton went on to say his “baseball ops” people told him they thought they could get an extension done, but that obviously never happened.

Now, Realmuto is set to hit the open market as the top free agent available this winter with three teams in the Phillies’ division — the Mets, Braves and Nationals — all likely suitors, as well as teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros.

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Middleton will have to outbid some other deep pocketed owners in order to retain his star catcher’s services.