Major League Baseball’s highest-paid catcher was unable to play for his team on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, as his Philadelphia Phillies traveled to Toronto to play the Blue Jays. All-Star and Gold Glove winner J.T. Realmuto was not eligible to enter Canada because he has decided against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Realmuto was placed on the Phillies “restricted list” for the two games, along with teammates Alec Bohm, Kyle Gibson, and Aaron Nola. The Phillies called up players from their AAA minor league team temporarily to take their places in the Toronto games.
Realmuto doubled down on his decision to forego the jabs on Tuesday, telling reporters that he is not going to “let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money.” He added, “It’s just not worth it.”
He went on to say that he is a 31-year-old professional athlete and simply did not feel he needed to have the vaccination. He said that he has already had COVID-19 twice and had “super mild symptoms” early in the pandemic.
The catcher said that when the vaccines became available he discussed the issue with a couple of doctors that he knew previously and told them his history. At that point, he said that he decided he did not need the shots and he did not intend to take it “just cause I was told to.”
When a reporter asked Realmuto if he was concerned that he will not be paid for the games he misses in Canada, he said, “Yeah, but I mean, what’s money?” He restated that he has no intention of letting “Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money.”
The star player signed a new 5-year, $115 million contract last year, making him the highest-paid regular catcher in the history of the game. He lost an estimated $262,000 by missing the Toronto games.
Current Canadian border rules require travelers to have proof of two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or one of the Johnson & Johnson jab.
The Phillies lost both games in Canada to the Blue Jays.