Phillies should do whatever it takes to extend J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto said he would be interested in signing a contract extension with the Phillies, and the team should do whatever it takes to get it done.

When the Phillies traded their top prospect Sixto Sanchez and blossoming young catcher Jorge Alfaro to the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto, they did so knowing they could lose him after the 2020 season. The team hopes that they can keep him around for longer, and it appears Realmuto would be open to that.

Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Realmuto is interested in signing a contract extension to keep him in town beyond the 2020 season. Breen states that extending Realmuto will be a critical offseason priority for the team.

Keeping Realmuto is an obvious no-brainer. He is the team’s only All-Star this year despite average offensive numbers. He has a .273/.328/.438 line with ten home runs and 42 runs batted in, playing in all but five of Philadelphia’s games so far this year.

Realmuto’s real value so far this year has been defensive. He leads all NL catchers with a 49% caught stealing rate, 26 runners caught stealing, seven double plays turned, 44 assists, and 12 total zone runs. He has the best pop time and third-best arm according to MLB Statcast.

Plus, Realmuto provides a steady presence behind the plate that the Phillies have not had since Carlos Ruiz. His pitch framing is fifth-best among all catchers per Baseball Prospectus’s framing runs metric. While it can’t be quantified, his ability to call games can elevate a young pitching staff (even though Vince Velasquez doesn’t want to listen).

As Breen stated, locking up Realmuto can and should be Philadelphia’s top priority once the offseason rolls around. Yadier Molina‘s three-year, $60 million extension signed in 2017 provides a good starting point for Realmuto’s salary. As Realmuto will be 30 in 2021 while Molina was 35 when his extension kicked in last year, expect several more years.

As a rough estimate, let’s say Realmuto a six-year, $120 million extension starting next year. That would sign him through 2025, his age-34 season. With just under $69 million of salary under the cap next year according to Spotrac, that would still leave room for arbitration players and a potential Rhys Hoskins extension.

Realmuto has already made an enormous impact for the Phillies and should continue for the next few years. The team has the money and the mutual interest to get an extension done, so they should do whatever is needed to accomplish it.