JT Realmuto’s staring contest with the Philadelphia Phillies continues.
The All-Star catcher told reporters Thursday that contract negotiations with the team still have not progressed since preliminary talks in spring training, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Realmuto did also say however that he understands the business, is not frustrated, and still likes the Phillies.
The 29-year-old Realmuto lost his arbitration case against the team back in February and criticized them for taking advantage of the process. An elite talent at the catcher position who homered 25 times last season and won a Gold Glove Award, Realmuto will be a free agent after the 2020 campaign if the Phillies do not extend him.
Bryce Harper has some strong thoughts on teammate J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto will be eligible for free agency after the season, and Harper doesn’t want to see the Philadelphia Phillies lose him.
“I think J.T. is a great player,” Harper told reporters on Friday, via the Phillies’ website. “If the Phillies don’t end up signing him back, which would be terrible and sad, I think there’s a lot of other teams out there that are going to want to sign the guy. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber catcher every year, he’s a great person, a great player. I mean, everybody in this organization from the top down wants to see him in red pinstripes for the rest of his career, and hopefully we can make that happen.”
The Phillies acquired Realmuto for three players in a trade last year, knowing that he would only have two seasons until free agency.
Realmuto rewarded the Phillies with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger season. He batted .275/.328/.493 with an .820. His 25 home runs were a career-high.
Realmuto is a top player at a premium position, so it’s understandable why Harper — who signed a 13-year-deal with Philly — wants the catcher as his teammate long-term.
Uncertainly still surrounds the 2020 MLB season, but the business of baseball will inevitably march on no matter what. Numerous top players will be entering the final season of their contracts in 2020, and most of them should get significant contracts once the season ends as long as they perform to their capabilities.
Here are the top five free agents set to hit the market after the 2020 season.
5. Marcus Stroman, P, Mets
Stroman’s youth will work heavily in his favor as he heads to free agency. The pitcher will be 29 when he hits free agency, and he could get a lot of money if he has a strong year with the Mets. Stroman’s 3.76 career ERA is good, but could get even better in the NL at a favorable pitcher’s park. If that happens, Stroman will be in very high demand as a quality pitcher who is still fairly young and should have a lot of mileage left on his arm.
4. Marcus Semien, SS, Athletics
The 30-year-old shortstop cut his errors almost in half from 2018 to 2019 and became an even better hitter, resulting in a top three MVP finish last season. If Semien can repeat anything close to that, he’s in line for a lot of money at age 30. Semien hit 30 home runs last year with a .285 average. A dropoff would hurt him, but his improvement across the board is encouraging. Teams will be watching him closely in 2020.
3. Trevor Bauer, P, Reds
Bauer’s stock fell in 2019, as he posted an ERA over six after being traded to the Cincinnati Reds, but did so pitching while hurt. It’s worth remembering, however, that he had a 2.21 ERA with Cleveland the year before. The real Bauer might be between those two extremes, but at age 30, teams will be very intrigued by him with the stuff he’s flashed in the past. A good 2020 could lead to a huge contract for him if he wants it, though he’s indicated in the past his preference for one-year deals. Also working in his favor is his durability; he’s pitched at least 175 innings in each of the last five seasons.
2. J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies
Arguably baseball’s best all-around catcher, Realmuto is going to be in huge demand if he hits the open market. He won’t turn 30 until next March, is fresh off a Gold Glove campaign, and posted an OPS over .800 for the second consecutive season. It’s rare to have a catcher that well-rounded, as it’s a position where defense is usually prioritized. Realmuto can do it all, and that could mean a $100 million deal is in his future.
1. Mookie Betts, OF, Dodgers
Betts’ 2019 was a down year compared to his 2018 MVP campaign, and he still hit .295 with 29 home runs. The new Dodger outfielder is a star on both offense and defense and is one of the game’s most dynamic players. He’s reportedly asked for a contract in the same neighborhood as the biggest in the game, and he just might get it. He’ll be a 28-year-old former MVP on the open market who is one of the game’s best five-tool players. If he hits the market, he’ll be the best free agent available, without question.
JT Realmuto lost his arbitration case against the Philadelphia Phillies this week, and the consolation will be a salary of $10 million for his final season before free agency. While that is a lot of money and a record arbitration salary for a catcher, Realmuto felt he should have been compared to players who had similar production at other positions.
After an arbitrator selected the Phillies’ $10 million offer to Realmuto over his $12.4 million appeal, the 28-year-old was critical of MLB’s outdated arbitration system and said the Phillies “took advantage of it.”
“It’s so outdated. There’s a separate catchers’ market,” Realmuto said, via Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That’s what the team’s main case was on, that you can’t go outside of the catchers’ market. But if you line my numbers up with position players, that’s where our figure comes into play.
“It’s never happened before where catchers go out of the catchers’ market. But it’s not in the rules that says you can’t. The team knows that they had a pretty strong case just for that, and they took advantage of it.”
Realmuto’s $10 million salary beats the previous high for a catcher, which was the $8.3 million Matt Wieters got from the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. However, Realmuto and his agent Jeff Berry argued that Realmuto deserved to be compensated based on his production at the plate. Realmuto, who hit 25 homers last season, has a career .278 average, 84 homers, and a .779 OPS in 685 games. Anthony Rendon was a .280 career hitter with a .812 OPS and 78 homers in 634 games when he avoided arbitration with a $12.3 salary from the Washington Nationals in 2018. Realmuto felt that should have been his closest comp.
However, Rendon is a third baseman. For whatever reason, the arbitration system does not value catchers as highly, which is why Realmuto is frustrated. He insists he is more irritated with the system than the Phillies, but we’ve seen how ugly arbitration hearings between players and teams can get. You have to wonder if the process will negatively impact Philly’s chances of being able to sign Realmuto to a long-term deal next year.
After losing his arbitration case against the Philadelphia Phillies, JT Realmuto is already looking ahead to his free agency next winter.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Thursday that the two-time All-Star is expected to seek a record salary for a catcher (exceeding Joe Mauer’s $23 million) and “quite possibly” a seven-year deal when he becomes a free agent.
Realmuto, 28, is perhaps the game’s best backstop right now as an elite defensive catcher with some major pop as well (25 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2019). He failed to secure his request of $12.4 million from the Phillies this season but is still getting a nice raise from $6.05 million to $10 million.
J.T. Realmuto is making an immediate impact in Philadelphia.
The catcher, acquired during the offseason from the Miami Marlins, hit his first home run as a Phillie on Saturday, a two-run shot against the Atlanta Braves to break a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning.
No wonder the Phillies were so aggressive in trying to nab Realmuto from the Marlins. Bryce Harper will get the headlines, but Realmuto is also going to be a hugely important addition to this Philadelphia club.
The Miami Marlins are maintaining a very high asking price for catcher J.T. Realmuto.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are insisting that top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez be in any potential Realmuto deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Miami is open to trading Realmuto, preferably before the start of spring training, with the Cincinnati Reds also prominently interested.
Sanchez, widely considered one of the top 30 prospects in baseball and ranked as high as No. 13 by Baseball America, posted a 2.51 ERA in eight starts at High-A Clearwater last season.
The chances seem real that Realmuto will be traded quite soon, but this is a pretty clear indication that they’re not compromising on their asking price. Along with the Phillies and Reds, a third team has been aggressive in trying to get involved in trade talks with the Marlins.
The San Diego Padres have suddenly been linked to the top names on both the free agent and trade markets, and there is reason to believe they are doing more than just window shopping.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com was told by a rival executive this week that Padres general manager A.J. Preller is “trying earnestly” to sign one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in addition to trading for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Morosi notes that the idea is not all that unrealistic, as the Padres could add a $30 million salary and still be somewhere in the middle of the league in payroll. They also have a very deep farm system and could potentially make the Marlins a solid offer.
In addition to the aforementioned big names, the Padres have also reportedly shown interest in free agent right-hander Gio Gonzalez, who is 33 and coming off a down year. Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star, posted a 10-11 record and 4.21 ERA in 2018, but he went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts after the Washington Nationals traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers. He could end up being a bargain.
All indications are that the Padres are serious about making a big splash, so it’s just a matter of whether or not star players want to play in San Diego. If they’re willing to offer top dollar in what has been another quiet free agent market, they may have a leg up on other teams.
One of the big questions all off season has been about where JT Realmuto will end up. The Los Angeles Dodgers have seemed like a contender to trade for him, but one report says another NL West team is more central in those talks.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said on Wednesday that the San Diego Padres are more of a factor in Realmuto trade talks than the Dodgers.
The market for players has gotten so cold that San Diego has now been connected to Manny Machado (with some concerns) and Realmuto.
The Padres have been in rebuilding mode ever since their aggressive plan in 2015 fell flat. Now they have some serious prospects in the pipeline close to being ready, and they think they will be a contender in the coming years. It’s on them to decide when and how they will begin cashing in their chips.
Realmuto remains one of the bigger storylines that has yet to be resolved this offseason. The Padres’ interest isn’t new, but we’ve heard that they want the opportunity to negotiate an extension with the catcher before agreeing to any trade, and it’s not clear if the Marlins are willing to accommodate such a request.