Phillies: MLB, MLBPA Deal for 2020 Impacts J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

MLB and MLBPA have reached a deal on terms for a likely shortened 2020 season; one particular part of the agreement affects Phillies catcher J.T Realmuto.

March 26 was supposed to be Opening Day for Major League Baseball’s 2020 season.

Instead, the league and the MLB Players Association reached a deal on terms for a likely shortened season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the agreement, adding that players have already voted and owners are expected to ratify on Friday. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is particularly impacted in one part of the deal.

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The deal is as follows, according to Passan and fellow scribes Evan Drellich and Jon Heyman:

Roster Moves

  • Transactions will be frozen, preventing roster moves. The MLB and MLBPA will agree when to resume. This could explain why the Phillies optioned six players to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, including veteran outfielder Nick Williams.


  • Players will be advanced $170 million from MLB owners for the months of April and May. And, if the entire season is canceled, “that money will be kept by the players.”
  • Overall salaries for the 2020 season will be prorated depending on number of games played.

Draft and International Signing Period

  • MLB can shorten the 2020 amateur draft, usually held in June, to five rounds, and can also shorten next year’s draft to 20 rounds.
  • Undrafted players can sign for $20,000.
  • MLB can delay the start of the international signing period to as late as January 2021. Also, the 2021-22 international signing period can be pushed back to January 2022 through December 2022.

Service Time

  • Regardless whether the 2020 season is played, players will get full service time, including pending free agent Phillies catcher Realmuto. Other notable, soon-to-be free agent players similar to Realmuto include Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, and Marcus Stroman. These players will hit free agency no matter what, according to the reached deal.
  • If the season is canceled, MLB players’ service time for 2020 will be based on games played the previous season.

Clearly, the No. 1 factor from the deal that affects the Phillies in particular is the fact that Realmuto can become a free agent, even if the season is canceled. Of course, that can all go for naught if an extension is agreed upon.

As recently as March 17, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said that the club has put contract extension talks with the “best catcher in baseball” on hold, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Realmuto, his representatives and the Phillies had tried to agree to a long-term deal prior, but stopped talks as Opening Day neared. Perhaps those talks will re-open with the season on pause. Realmuto’s agents reportedly want to surpass San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey’s eight-year, $159 million contract extension, per Heyman.

March 26 came and went with no regular season action on MLB slate. No one knows just when sports, let alone life, will return to normalcy. Yet, it is welcoming to hear that MLB and the MLBPA are well-prepared and on the same page through their reached deal.