After months of indecision and uncertainty, Phillies fans can finally take a breath of reliever: J.T. Realmuto is not going anywhere. As Craig Mish reported on Tuesday, the Phillies and Realmuto have agreed to a five-year, $115.5 million contract.
Realmuto’s contract is the second-largest among active catchers behind only Buster Posey. His contract also is the largest AAV (average annual value) in history for a catcher. The previous largest AAV contract was Joe Mauer’s $23 million per year contract in 2011. Realmuto’s contract edges Mauer out by $100,000 AAV.
Realmuto has made his presence known in Philadelphia since the Phillies traded Sixto Sanchez for him in February 2019. The catcher has played in exactly 162 games since coming to Philly. Over the past two seasons, he has hit for 36 home runs and a 112 OPS+. Combine his ability at the plate with his discipline and powerful throwing arm behind the plate, and Realmuto is easily the best catcher of his generation. Now, he will remain in Philadelphia for years to come.
How It Happened
The first report of progress came last Friday, when the Phillies reportedly “made a new 5-year, 9-figure offer to J.T. Realmuto.” Previously, it was reported that Dave Dombrowksi met with Realmuto over the holidays in his home state of Oklahoma. Archie Bradley, a fellow Okie, made it clear after he signed on with the Phillies that he wanted the Phillies to bring Realmuto back.
Then, Tuesday night, it was reported that the Toronto Blue Jays had signed George Springer to a six-year contract. Springer’s contract effectively ended Toronto’s chances of acquiring Realmuto, as they were the only other likely destination for the catcher.
With the market clearing out and Realmuto’s hopes of a large contract fading, reports came in on Thursday that the Atlanta Braves were “circling in” on the catcher. The report, which was unsubstantiated, possibly originated from CAA Sports, who represent Realmuto. Agencies will occasionally feed out false reports in an effort to add pressure on an organization to sign their client. Regardless, if the report was genuine, pressure began to mount on the Phillies yet again.
This was a long time coming for the Phillies
Dating as far back as Summer Camp 2020, teammate Bryce Harper has been advocating for the Phillies to sign Realmuto long-term. Now, Harper can rejoice.
The Realmuto signing indicates that the Phillies’ patient strategy for the offseason appears to have paid off. The Phillies have watched players like James McCann and DJ LeMahieu settle for deals far below their worth. Meanwhile, Realmuto had been looking for a record-breaking contract as he waves the flag for all underpaid catchers. Those hopes were not fully realized in a COVID-19 affected marketplace.
With Realmuto signed, the Phillies can now shift their focus to re-signing Didi Gregorius, as well as adding another starting pitcher and more relief help.
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