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J.T. Realmuto Press Conference Highlights



J.T. Realmuto will be one of the Phillies’ core players for at least the next two seasons. (Ian D’Andrea)

Newly-acquired Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was joined this afternoon by general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler at an introductory press conference down in Clearwater, Florida.

Realmuto, who turns 28-years-old on March 18, was obtained by the Phillies in a trade with the Miami Marlins on February 7. Here are some of the highlights from today’s press conference.

Marlins Park versus Citizens Bank Park

It’s definitely tough,” Realmuto responded when asked about the difficulty of hitting in Marlins Park. “It’ll be nice to get out of there. Not that Citizens Bank Park is any slouch, you still have to hit the ball well. But it will be nice knowing that if you get a ball you have a nice chance of getting it out, and in Marlins Park sometimes you felt you got all of it and you were flying out to center field, not even getting a double out of it.”

In 28 games and 109 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park, Realmuto has a career slash line of .282/.312/.476 with four home runs and 17 RBI. In 260 games at Marlins Park, Realmuto slashed just .245/.294/.384 with 22 home runs, 106 RBIs, and a .678 OBP in 1,008 plate appearances.

For his career, Realmuto hit .309 in away games while with Miami and had an .848 OPS. It’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of a season in which 2018 NL All-Star catcher takes another step up when you examine all of his splits.

Phillies pitching staff

I’ve definitely studied all of them [the pitching staff] multiple times, just from facing them. It’ll be a lot of fun to get to work with these guys. There’s a lot of great arms on this team, a lot of young, electric stuff. Guys that are getting better. From top to bottom, this entire starting rotation has quality plus stuff, and they’ve all gotten better with time.

As it currently stands, the only pitcher in the rotation over age 30 is Jake Arrieta, who turns 33-years-old in March. Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin currently round out the rest of the staff, with Jerad Eickhoff looking to squeeze back in as well. A free agent pickup such as Dallas Keuchel would add another talented veteran to the mix.

On a contract extension and staying long-term

Realmuto explained that he hadn’t gotten any time to think about a contract extension and staying with the Phillies for the long-term. He did say he’s heard “nothing but amazing things” about the organization.

The Phillies have certainly thought about a long-term deal even before finalizing the Realmuto deal. The club has two years of control left on Realmuto’s contract before he is eligible to hit free agency. While there is plenty of time for a deal to get done, expect this to be something the club tries to address soon.

On hitting in the lineup and the number of starts at catcher

Kapler was asked about where Realmuto might fit into the lineup. The Phillies skipper responded by saying he didn’t know yet where his new catcher would hit. But he did acknowledge Realmuto as a player who could hit in the heart of the lineup, with 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mentioned by Kapler.

In addition, both Realmuto and Kapler were unsure of how many games Realmuto would be starting at catcher. Realmuto jokingly said he wished he could start all 162 games. Last season he played in 112 games, 111 of those as the starter, covering 951 total innings with Miami. He also played 78 innings at first base, so he might also see time as a backup to Rhys Hoskins depending on game situations and how the roster shakes out over spring training.

On the Harper free agency situation

Klentak explained he had not yet talked to Realmuto on the possibility of adding another player such as Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The Phillies GM did maintain that the trade for Realmuto does not exclude them from making more moves.

While Klentak hasn’t talked to him specifically about the pursuit of Harper, Realmuto is certainly more than aware of the Phillies’ interest in landing the superstar. Regarding Harper, Realmuto said “anyone would love to have a guy like that on your team.

On moving to a contending team with the Phillies

Last season, the Miami Marlins finished fifth in the National League East with a record of 63-98. Realmuto has yet to get a taste of the postseason since debuting in 2014 despite being teammates with players such as Jose Fernandez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich.

Realmuto explained that the baseball season is long, and that it’s even tougher when there’s no “end result” (meaning the postseason). Realmuto said he was most excited about playing in meaningful games.

With the improvements that he and other additions such as Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and David Robertson have brought to the team, the Phillies should be playing plenty of those meaningful games in 2019.

Other tidbits

There was no significance to Realmuto’s choosing jersey number “10”, only that he felt that it was the best of the three options given to him.

Realmuto mentioned defense as one of the areas in which he would like to improve on this season. He also explained that he wasn’t surprised by the Phillies jumping in and trading for him despite the team only re-emerging late in the process.

 

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