Should the Phillies add a 6th year to their Realmuto contract offer?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 14: Philadelphia Phillies Catcher J.T. Realmuto (10) hits a three run home run during the fifth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on August 14, 2020, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

If a six-year contract gets the JT Realmuto deal done quickly, should the Phillies bite the bullet and make the offer?

According to the latest reports, the Phillies have offered JT Realmuto a five-year contract worth around $110 million.

Jim Bowden believes the Phillies could get the deal done if they add a sixth year to their offer. Both George Springer and DJ LeMahieu recently signed six-year contracts, so that number seems to be popular right now.

Realmuto and Springer were widely considered the top free-agents this offseason, so it makes sense that Realmuto would want a deal similar to Springer’s. Realmuto’s chances of earning as much money as Springer ($150 million) are out the window, but he could at least look to match Springer in terms of years. While catchers tend to decline more quickly than other position players, Realmuto is a year-and-a-half younger than Springer, so a six-year deal for JT is not a crazy idea. 

If the Phillies offered Realmuto a guaranteed sixth year, it would certainly lower the average annual value of the contract. That means that a six-year pact might cost the team somewhere around $120-$125 million. 

Does it make sense for the Phillies to extend a six-year offer to Realmuto? Or is it safer for the team to keep the deal at five years and perhaps raise the AAV by a few million dollars? It’s hard to say. Here are the pros and cons for both options.

Phillies’ Reported Current Offer: A five-year contract

These days, when a team signs a star free-agent they’re really paying him for the first half of his contract. The Phillies signed Bryce Harper for 13 years because they wanted his age 26-32 seasons, not his age 33-38 seasons. The same will be true with Realmuto. He’s probably only going to be a star for the next 3 seasons or so. For that reason, the Phillies are smart to keep his contract as short as possible.

It would be upsetting to watch Realmuto decline from a superstar to a burden by the end of his contract. I don’t want to watch him struggle though a season while fans complain about his $20 million price tag.

Keeping the deal short also gives the Phillies financial flexibility in the future. Dave Dombrowski should not hamstring the team six years from now just to save a few dollars today.

Should it be a six-year contract?

A six-year contract means a lower average annual value, so in this scenario, the Phillies will have slightly more payroll flexibility for the 2021 season. That could provide Dave Dombrowski with the financial means necessary to acquire an additional competent reliever. A few million dollars doesn’t seem like much, but as we saw in 2020, one good reliever can be the difference between making the playoffs or not. If the Phillies are on as tight of a budget as they say they are, every dollar saved makes a difference.

It’s also worth mentioning that Realmuto would only be 35 years old in the sixth year of his contract. While he won’t be a star by then, he could still be a decent backstop. In recent seasons, catchers like Yadier Molina, Kurt Suzuki, Brian McCann, and Russell Martin have proved that 35-year-olds can still be valuable behind the plate. Furthermore, JT carries a strong enough bat that he’ll be able to provide value at first base too.

JT Realmuto is incredibly athletic and has shown incredible work ethic in his time with the Phillies. If anyone can play catcher well into his thirties, it’s JT.

The verdict

Personally, I’m all for offering Realmuto the sixth year. The days of “stupid money” are over and Dave Dombrowski is going to need all the financial flexibility he can get. It’s highly unlikely that Realmuto will decline so rapidly that he won’t be a valuable role-player six years from now.

And most importantly, it’s time for the madness to end. This entire offseason has been a painful waiting game, and the fans are tired of it. The Phillies need JT Realmuto. At this point, they just have to sign him already.

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire