The verdict is in. J.T. Realmuto will be paid $10 million this season after losing his arbitration hearing against the Phillies.
Realmuto came into the arbitration process seeking $12.4 million, but instead he must settle for what remains a record salary earned by an arbitration-eligible catcher.
So, will this ordeal lead to some sour grapes?
It’s easy to wonder if there will be any lingering hard feelings between the Phillies and Realmuto when the two sides begin talks on an extension for the all-star catcher that figures to be comfortably north of $100 million, but both sides have maintained this winter’s stalemate won’t have any impact on negotiations going forward.
Realmuto, who the Phillies frequently refer to as the best catcher in baseball, represented the union’s best shot at raising the comparably restrictive financial ceiling at the position. It turns out that that economics–not flattering tweets from the Phils’ social media team or the organization’s public adoration for Realmuto–was the deciding factor.
Now that Realmuto is locked in at $10 million, we’ll see if the two sides can regroup and come to an agreement that keeps the 29-year-old in red pinstripes for the foreseeable future.
Realmuto has previously indicated he would be open to remaining in Philadelphia, but it’s the Phillies’ front office that is probably the more motivated side to reach a new deal sooner rather than later.
If the team fails to sign Realmuto to a long-term deal, it will call into question its decision to part with top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez last winter, but the benefits of getting a deal in place go well beyond improving the optics of a previous gamble.
Getting Realmuto on the books for 2021 and beyond sometime this spring, or at least prior to this summer’s trade deadline, would provide the team’s decision-makers with some financial clarity as it weighs how aggressively it wants to pursue in-season upgrades and/or free agents next offseason, as well as which positions it will need to address.
As for Realmuto, a long-term deal makes sense at the right number, particularly if he likes Philly as much as he says he does. Still, if he elects to wait and test the open market, he would almost undoubtedly draw significant interest from multiple teams, potentially setting the stage for a crowded bidding war.