4. J.T. Realmuto, C (R)
At the onset of the offseason, chances seemed slim that star catcher J.T. Realmuto would re-sign with the Phillies, especially since the New York Mets were expected to be heavy favorites given their new owner, Steve Cohen. Instead, the Mets went another direction and signed James McCann. The Nationals were also linked to having interest in Realmuto, but instead opted for the duo of Yan Gomes and Alex Avila. Even the Atlanta Braves seemed to have a slim chance to steal the catcher away at one point.
The Phillies played the “waiting game” successfully and were able to retain their star catcher on a five-year, $115.5 million deal — setting an all-time record for average annual value at the catcher position.
It feels like without bringing back Realmuto, the Phillies would have a steep hill to climb if they wanted to contend this coming season amid their strong National League East division. The hill is still there even with Realmuto re-signed, but the Phillies have more traction and ability to make significant strides this coming season.
This past season, Realmuto received 187 plate appearances at the cleanup spot. On top of scoring 32 runs, the Oklahoma native slugged five doubles, 11 home runs, and 31 RBI. The seven-year veteran is a constant threat at the plate and behind the plate defensively. If Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins, and/or Bryce Harper get on base and into scoring position, the Phillies should have confidence in Realmuto to get the job done and bring them home.