Phillies must find a way to retain J.T. Realmuto long-term
The Phillies hit the jackpot with J.T. Realmuto and need to keep him long-term
J.T. Realmuto finished his first season in a Phillies uniform in 2019 after being traded from the Miami Marlins in exchange for highly touted pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, Jorge Alfaro, and Will Stewart.
Realmuto came as a significant upgrade behind the plate to Alfaro, who had a strong arm but was often errant in his throws on stolen base attempts and inconsistent at the plate.
Realmuto finished the season with a 5.7 fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) after posting an .820 OPS, 25 HR, and 83 RBI. For the catcher position, that’s as good as you’ll see anywhere. Perhaps even more pronounced were his numbers as a catcher, posting a Defensive Runs Saved of +11 and posted an MLB-best 43 runners caught stealing in 2019.
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Realmuto was the team’s lone All-Star, and rightfully so. No other player on the team had earned it, and he is the best catcher in baseball. Nonetheless, of all position players, Realmuto had the highest fWAR on the team (second-best was Bryce Harper, with an fWAR of 4.6).
Fans could regularly tune into games and see J.T. all over the action. He was a fun player to watch, and he is under contract for next year. He is arbitration-eligible and will likely see a raise in pay in 2020.
After that, though, things are murky. Philly and Realmuto have mutual interest in an extension, but the Phillies must determine the right value for him. No team has unlimited money to spend, and the Phillies have lots of needs to address to improve the quality of the team to compete with the likes of the Braves and Nationals.
That said, if Realmuto were to walk, Philadelphia doesn’t have any catchers in their system. Re-signing him should happen before spring training rolls around in February. Plus, it’s not my money.