Although the MLB season has been delayed until further notice, the Phillies still have a ton of business to take care of. Chief among them should be extending (best) catcher (in baseball) J.T Realmuto.
Last season, his first with the team, Realmuto captured his second-straight Silver Slugger award and first Gold Glove award. In addition to taking home the hardware, the six-year veteran belted 25 home runs to complement his impressive .275 batting average en route to his second all-star selection.
After an impactful debut season in Philly, Realmuto, rightfully, is looking to get a contract that better reflects his high level of production.
Realmuto, who is set to make $10M in 2020, is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal that will pay him upwards of $20M/yr.
While doubling the salary of a player may sound a bit steep, there is perhaps no one more deserving of a raise in all of baseball and certainly not one more deserving on the Phillies roster than Realmuto.
In addition to being the best defensive player at his position, Realmuto is really coming into his own at the plate. He’s still making contact at a solid clip and sporting an above-average batting average, but his power numbers continue to rise, suggesting we may not have seen the best of Realmuto offensively.
Last season was his second-straight 20+ homer campaign- as he sent a career-best 25 dingers flying out of the park- making him one of just two catchers to mash 20+ HRs in each of the last two seasons. Yasmani Grandal of the Brewers being the other.
It isn’t just his impressive power numbers that make Realmuto such a valuable component of the Phillies offense, though, but his consistency as well.
Although their end of the year rankings suggest they were more middle-of-the-pack than anything, the Phillies offense was wildly inconsistent last season. When they were hot, they were hot, but when they were cold, they were dreadfully, blisteringly cold.
Far too often would the team suffer through quiet nights at the plate and the team boasted the eighth-worst batting average in the entire league at .246.
Realmuto, however, was as consistent as they come. The veteran catcher had just one month in which he batted less than .273- showcasing his ability to never get too low on himself at the plate. Not only was he consistent month-to-month, but Realmuto also didn’t show any negative variance between right and left-handed pitching, batting .275 and .276 against them, respectively.
Mind you, Realmuto recorded this impressive offensive output while simultaneously shattering records defensively. The Phillies catcher threw out a whopping 43 runners- next closest catcher threw out 27- for a league-leading 46.7% caught-stealing percentage.
Following such an impressive, complete campaign, one would think that the Phillies would be racing to get a deal done with the potential franchise cornerstone.
After all, the Phils did have to part with their top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and promising power bat Jorge Alfaro to acquire Realmuto. That trade package all but depleted what was already a lackluster farm system, making a Realmuto extension all the more important as the team aims to not waste valuable resources.
I understand that Phillies GM Matt Klentak and the front office brass are trying to be wise with their limited spending, but in the case of Realmuto, there is practically no benefit in waiting.
If anything, his price is only going to go up should the Phillies allow him to headline a rather weak upcoming free-agent class. Aside from Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, Realmuto would be the crown jewel of the free agency and his presence on the market could start a bidding war that would almost certainly drive his price beyond what it is now.
With that being said, the Phillies should cease dragging their feet with this and extend their much-needed star catcher that they paid a hefty price to attain- avoiding a bidding war altogether.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports