The free-agency sweepstakes of All-Star catcher JT Realmuto has finally reached its finale — and the Philadelphia Phillies have kept their guy.
As first reported by Craig Mish, the Phillies and Realmuto have agreed to a five-year deal worth $115.5 million, pending a physical.
This came shortly after MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported earlier on Tuesday that the “JT Realmuto situation feels like it’s coming to a head,” and that the Phillies “are trying to close the deal.”
The division-rival Atlanta Braves were believed to have a mutual interest as well and were seen as one of the finalists.
Recent reports tabbed the Phillies’ offer for Realmuto at $110 million, likely over five years after he spent two seasons with the team. Philadelphia acquired the backstop from the Miami Marlins and he didn’t disappoint in the final years of his contract, slashing .273/.333/.492 (.825 OPS) with 162-game averages of 31 home runs and 98 RBI.
During the final weeks of a disappointing 2020 season and into the offseason, Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper led the crusade of imploring the organization to retain Realmuto, who was among Major League Baseball’s top free agents available this winter.
But the Phillies were quickly believed to be abandoning their pursuit of reuniting with the Oklahoma native after it was reported that the franchise lost $145 million due to the pandemic. Another potential fallout from the financial losses included rumors that the team was going to trade Zack Wheeler just one year after inking him to a five-year, $118 million deal.
The Phillies quickly flipped the script, though, hiring Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations. The move throttled them back into the Realmuto hunt and their chances only improved when the New York Mets — believed to be a top suitor for the catcher — opted to address their void at catcher earlier in the offseason by signing James McCann to a four-year deal.
Retaining Realmuto keeps an All-Star fixture in Philadelphia’s ranks. Joe Girardi’s men are going to need all the help they can get in a loaded NL East that boasts a talented young Braves core, the reloading Mets that have already had a monster offseason after acquiring Francisco Lindor, and a Washington Nationals side just two years removed from winning a World Series. Not to mention a developing Marlins team that defied the odds in 2020 and made the postseason for the first time in 17 years.