As the world continues to stand still, baseball fans across the country are wondering if the season will begin before they watch everything on Netflix…. Twice! Matt Klentak might be re watching The Office too, as he recently came out and stated both the Phillies and JT Realmuto’s representation have decided to put contract extension talks on hold. Arguably the biggest priority of the Phils offseason is locking up the “BCIB” to a long term deal. A question of when pen to paper will be completed is most likely a “moo point” (if you are binge watching Friends you’ll get the reference). A much bigger question should be asked, not when will it happen, but exactly how much is this guy going to get? He’s going to get paid, serious cash, but is he about to get a record setting kind of a deal? All we can do is go off of what we currently know in the world of catcher contracts. Time to examine the evidence.
Giants catcher Buster Posey is currently in the teams final obligated year of an 8 year deal (9th year option) worth a possible $186 million when it’s all said and done. The deal was signed when Posey turned 26, and he was coming off of a campaign in which he won the NL MVP. His .336/.408/.549 line with 24 HR’s and 103 RBI’s was good for a 7.6WAR, which also happened to lead the NL that year not just for catchers, but for all National League qualifiers. It’s safe to say the 29 year Realmuto most likely won’t get that sort of length with his contract, but it’s clear using Posey’s contract that a minimum of 5 years with at least one team option year is basically set in stone.
Currently, 37 year old Yadier Molina has the salary with the highest AAV of $20 million per year. He signed a 3yr – $60 million contract before the start of the 2018 season. Obviously Molina’s longevity, durability and consistency played a major role in the Cardinals offer to the future Hall of Famer. Though a look at his age 35 season in 2017 makes things interesting regarding JT’s future earnings. Molina’s 1.8 WAR and slash line of .273/.312/.439 in 136 games is respectable sure, but was it really worth $20 per year following it. For the Phillies sake unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if it was, he got it, and both JT and his agent certainly know it.
I guess that leaves us with the man himself. A line of .275/.328./.493 with 25 HR’s and 83 RBI’s, not to mention a gold glove, gave JT a WAR of 4.5 in 2019. The highest by a catcher in the majors last season. Keep in mind, he’s basically sustained that WAR for 3 consecutive seasons, (4.4 in 2017). Only JT and Posey are the active catchers with a WAR that high or better in 3 consecutive seasons or more. His defensive numbers have increased each of the last 4 years and was widely considered to be the most complete catcher in the game following this last season. So what should the contract look like? The way the current market has been set in the previous seasons by the likes of Posey and Molina, 5 years and no less than $100 million will have to be a minimum starting point. Being under 30 years of age at the time of signing puts JT in the driver seat, and the Phillies currently have no clear cut future at the position in the farm system. His deal is going to re-set the market for his position, and it’s going to be with a contract in the ball park of 5-6 years with an AAV of roughly $22.5 million per year. That my friends, you can take to the bank…. and tell JT everyone says hello when you see him there.