The ball was always going to be in JT Realmuto’s proverbial court — or glove. But now there’s an offer on the table, so let’s just see how much he really wants to play in Philadelphia.
A report from The Athletic on Saturday disclosed that the Phillies put forth a five-year deal that’s worth nine figures, which is $100 million or more for the All-Star catcher in hopes of securing him in the City of Brotherly Love for the long-term.
It’s hardly the kind of offseason that Realmuto probably had expected, initially. But the sluggish pace of the market, which is a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, guaranteed that the 29-year-old would not get the kind of payday he initially wanted. He was hoping for a $200 million deal at the start of spring training last season before the pandemic hit.
While his initial number has almost been cut in half, there is still the promise that Realmuto could become the highest-paid catcher in baseball history. The current record for average annual salary belongs to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, whose AAV was at $23 million in a deal that ranged from 2011-2018.
“It is an important number for Realmuto and his agent Jeff Berry,” MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki wrote. “Their stance has always been the same: catchers are underpaid and Realmuto should be paid as one of the best players in baseball anyway.”
Most of MLB’s elite free agents remain unsigned — most notably George Springer, Trevor Bauer, and Marcell Ozuna. However, star infielder DJ LeMahieu’s recent deal agreed upon with the New York Yankees might not help out Realmuto’s chances of maximizing his payday.
Coming off a season in which he won the AL batting crown with a .364 average, LeMahieu agreed to a six-year deal worth $90 million. That’s an AAV of $15 million per season and at least $9 million less than what Realmuto and his representation are looking for.
He won’t be the only player impacted by LeMahieu’s deal. Initial expectations believe that Springer could get under the $150 million that he and his camp were initially looking for after the Toronto Blue Jays sent an offer his way that was under that mark — this before the LeMahieu pact in New York.
The market for Realmuto outside of Philadelphia is still relatively unknown, but the Washington Nationals were the latest club linked to the catcher’s services. The Blue Jays and Houston Astros have also been mentioned after the New York Mets — once believed a top potential suitor — opted to nab their No. 1 catcher early in the offseason by signing James McCann to a four-year deal.
Realmuto reportedly let it be known back in October that he would prefer to play in Philadelphia, ensuring All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper continues to play with what is deemed as his favorite teammate.
Now we’ll see if a fistful of dollars comes between the two parties.