Phillies Rumors: J.T. Realmuto Expected to Seek Record Contract for Catcher

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

Philadelphia Phillies' J.T. Realmuto watches his hit against the Cleveland Indians during a baseball game in Cleveland, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Phil Long)
Phil Long/Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is reportedly expected to seek a record-setting contract for a catcher when he becomes a free agent next winter.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Realmuto will push for an annual salary that exceeds the $23 million the Minnesota Twins paid Joe Mauer. He also noted Realmuto "quite possibly" could look for a seven-year deal.

Buster Posey is currently the highest-paid catcher in baseball at $21.4 million, which came as part of the eight-year, $168 million extension he signed in 2013. No other catcher has a total contract value of more than $73 million, and there are only five catchers who will make $10 million or more in 2020.

Mauer's deal is widely considered one of the worst in recent memory, an albatross that hung over the small-market Twins until its expiration. Posey was an All-Star as recently as 2018 but showed signs of massive decline last season and is under contract for another $21.4 million next season.

The recent trend in catching contracts makes it highly unlikely Realmuto comes close to reaching the years benchmark he's looking for despite being widely viewed as the best player at his position. Yasmani Grandal was forced to settle for a four-year, $73 million contract over the winter.

While Realmuto is a better player than Grandal, something in the five-year, $100 million range may be a more realistic figure. The Phillies won their arbitration case with their starting catcher Thursday, meaning he will make $10 million in 2020 before hitting the open market. Realmuto hit .275/.328/.493 with 25 home runs and 83 runs batted in last season. 

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John Clark of NBC Sports Philly reported the Phillies are expected to enter into extension negotiations with Realmuto now that the arbitration process has ended. 

If Mauer money is considered the starting point of negotiations, the overwhelming odds are these two sides won't get anywhere close to a deal by the winter.