No matter where he goes, JT Realmuto is going to be one of the highest-paid catchers the game of baseball has ever seen.
The current Philadelphia Phillies’ All-Star is out with a mild hip flexor strain, which is expected to keep him out for at least a few days of his team’s final push toward the playoffs. An unfortunate wrench in an otherwise stellar season for the 29-year-old backstop, who was slashing .267/.357/.527 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 41 games.
It could very well be Realmuto’s last contributions to the Phillies, too, as he will hit the free-agent market this winter as the game’s most highly-coveted catcher, and it isn’t really close.
Since 2015, Realmuto has been baseball’s undisputed best catcher, which puts a premium on his services considering the lack of talent at his position around the league.
Just look at how he’s dominated the statlines amongst MLB catchers that played at least 200 of their games at the position over the last five years:
MLB catcher statistical leaders since 2015
- JT Realmuto- 19.7
- Buster Posey- 18.7
- Yasmani Grandal- 13.3
- JT Realmuto- 736
- Buster Posey- 707
- Yadier Molina- 693
- Buster Posey- .295
- JT Realmuto- .278
- Yadier Molina- .277
- Gary Sanchez- .824
- Willson Contreras- .814
- Yasmani Grandal- .803
- Buster Posey- .795
- JT Realmuto- .787
- Yasmani Grandal- 123
- Gary Sanchez- 112
- Salvador Perez- 102
- JT Realmuto- 95
- JT Realmuto- 347
- Yadier Molina- 346
- Yasmani Grandal- 344
- JT Realmuto- 44
- Yadier Molina- 25
- Buster Posey- 17
Both Posey and Molina are in the twilight of their careers while Grandal is locked down with the Chicago White Sox until 2023 — so for team’s looking for a catcher in free agency, it’s Realmuto or bust.
While the Phillies offered a hint that talks exist between them and the catcher’s representation, there’s no way Realmuto doesn’t hit the open market. That’s where the big boys step in.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted on Tuesday that both New York teams — the Yankees and Mets — are expected to show interest in signing Realmuto.
For the Mets, it’s their first glimpse of life under potential new owner Steve Cohen — the $14.6 billionaire having just signed an agreement with the Wilpon family to take over 95% majority ownership in November if he gets the necessary approval from MLB club owners.
He would become, by far, the richest owner in Major League Baseball and would immediately make the Mets a threat in the free-agent market. Meaning if Realmuto’s services come down to a bidding war, they become the favorites as the Phillies won’t be able to keep up.
Such a signing would effectively replace the soon-to-be departing Wilson Ramos. The Mets, for now, are not expected to pick up the 2021 club option on his contract.
As for the Yankees’ inclusion in Rosenthal’s report, that’s a bit more surprising.
Gary Sanchez is still one of the premier power-hitting catchers in the game, but his plate discipline and defense have not improved over the last few seasons, thus presenting the chance that the Yankees could be searching for greener pastures behind the dish.
An organization that once stopped at nothing financially to win has grown more frugal over the years of GM Brian Cashman’s regime. Realmuto is expected to garner a $100 million-plus deal, though, and the Yankees are already paying the massive salaries of Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton. They also need to come up with extensions for the likes of Aaron Judge.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com