Phillies will have to make J.T. Realmuto the most expensive catcher in baseball

Extending J.T. Realmuto should be one of, if not the top priorities for the Phillies this offseason.

After being acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins that sent a highly talented phenom to Miami, J.T. Realmuto more than proved his worth in a Phillies uniform this season. He contributed heavily at the plate and behind the dish, en route to winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

Heading into the free agency period next offseason, Realmuto would be extremely sought after by any team that needs help with a backstop. It should be the Phillies utmost responsibility to keep him in the red and white pinstripes by locking him into a contract extension, because without J.T., they simply won’t be the same team.

Realmuto’s 2019 season statline reads as follows. 25HR, 83RBIs, .275 average. And not to be forgotten, Realmuto knocked 36 doubles and almost stole double-digit bags as a catcher. Granted, it doesn’t deviate from his previous season with the Marlins, but it proves Realmuto can be expected to be consistently productive at the plate.

What sets Realmuto apart from other catchers in this league is the way he finds success in multiple phases of the game. With one of the quickest, if not the best, pop-times in the league that combines with a plus arm, Realmuto is feared by base-stealers for his prowess at getting the ball to second in record time.

At the plate Realmuto led all catchers with 148 hits, 36 doubles, and 83 RBI, while also hitting a career-high 25 home runs.

It proves he’s the total package, but what are the Phils going to need to do to keep a guy like J.T.? Well, as Puff Daddy would say, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

The Phils will have the advantage of Realmuto being under contract for one more season, but after said year he will demand top-dollar in the 2020 market.

This makes it all the more important to get a long-term deal done right now.

Considering his production and relatively young age of 28, J.T. could demand $100 million-plus in total contract value when offensive output is weighted. If his contract was placed in the 5-6 years range with no opt-outs, the Phillies could reasonably offer $20 million per year, and that might be a bargain given last his 2019 production.

Buster Posey has the largest guaranteed contract for a catcher with $159 million over eight years, and Yadier Molina’s deal averages $20 million, the highest average annual value at the position.

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While he’ll age just like any other player, Realmuto’s bat could give him an everyday spot at another position such as first base or potentially someday as a designated hitter. For my money it’s not going to be if the Phillies extend Realmuto, but when they do it. The time is now, and it’s going to be exciting to see what Realmuto can make out of a long career in a Phillies uniform.

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