Despite winning the National League Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger at catcher, while posting a 5.7 fWAR (which was seventh among all National League position players), J.T. Realmuto finished just 14th in 2019 National League MVP voting.
Suffice it to say, those in and around the Phillies organization know that doesn’t do justice to just how impressive Realmuto was in his first season in red pinstripes.
Salisbury did add the qualifier that depending upon how the Phillies offseason plays out, the Phillies could attempt to reach a one-year deal this winter with Realmuto to avoid arbitration, and sign an extension at a later date. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects that Realmuto will earn $10.3 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and if he played on a number around that value in 2020, the Phillies may be more freed up financially to build a team around him and Bryce Harper.
Of course, the Phillies could also sign Realmuto to a long-term deal that begins in 2020 and spreads the money out in a way where he makes less in the first year of his extension than the remaining four or five years. Both David Robertson and Jake Arrieta will come off the books after next season.
In any event, there’s no indication that the Phillies could lose Realmuto to free agency next offseason. Frankly, there’s not yet any indication that he’ll even reach free agency.
The Phillies lone 2019 All-Star representative discussed his future earlier this week.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I could definitely see a scenario where they come to me and offer me an extension,” Realmuto said on MLB Network Radio. “For me, being this close to free agency is always intriguing as a player, but also if they offer me a deal that’s fair for both sides, and sets up my family for life where we don’t have to worry about anything, I would not be opposed to staying in Philadelphia one bit. I mentioned earlier how well they’ve treated my family and how well they’ve treated me, so it’s definitely a place I could see myself staying.”
What would a deal that’s fair for both sides look like? In August, I projected that a fair extension for the two-time All-Star could be something in the neighborhood of five years and $110 million, with a vesting option for a sixth season. Whether Realmuto’s agent, Jeff Barry, would insist on a guaranteed sixth season – especially if the deal begins in 2020 – remains to be seen.
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