Phillies: 5 catcher options if J.T. Realmuto leaves
Trade for Cubs catcher Willson Contreras
Trading for Willson Contreras might be too rich for the Phillies, but it would be their best chance as replacing Realmuto’s power.
Contreras is among the top-five offensive catchers in baseball with the fifth-most home runs by a catcher since 2016, seven fewer than Realmuto’s 74.
In his first four seasons with Chicago Contreras has a .267 batting average with rising power, coming off a career-high 24 home runs in just 105 games last year.
Contreras has been an All-Star in his last two seasons and since 2016 he’s among the top six among catchers in hits, doubles, RBIs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.
Contreras can strike out a lot, but his strikeout rate in 2019 was slightly lower than Realmuto’s 1.17/game, finishing just a hair over at 1.029 for Chicago.
Where the Phillies would lose out is the defense, especially Reamuto’s arm. Base runners were caught 43 times by Realmuto, just 16 times by Contreras. Realmuto’s fielding percentage was slightly higher as well at .992 vs Contreras’ .986 last year.
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Chicago is in a weird spot with their roster at this time as they continue to look for ways to trim payroll. In 2020 their payroll was due to be $186.1 million, but Spotrac reports that will be cut in half in 2021 with the contracts of Anthony Rizzo, Tyler Chatwood, and Jose Quintana coming off the books.
Still, the Cubs have to find a way to keep their young core of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Contreras intact when their arbitration eligibility runs out.
Similar to when the Phillies traded for Realmuto, Contreras has two years of control remaining after the 2020 season. If the Phillies lose Realmuto, they could be forced to give Chicago a deal similar to what they paid Miami.
It’s unlikely the Phillies give up top prospects Alec Bohm or Spencer Howard, but would Chicago take Rhys Hoskins to replace Rizzo? The Phillies also have a crop of young catchers who (while not as praised as Alfaro was) are talented and could come into play.
It’ll cost the Phillies an arm and a leg to make another high-profile deal for a catcher, but if their aspirations are to contend, this might have to be the deal they make.