In a mega deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers locked up star outfielder Mookie Betts to a 12-year $365 million dollar extension (I’m still trying to figure out why Boston couldn’t do it). With this contract, Betts surpassed Mike Trout’s 10-year $360 million deal from last off-season as the most new money an athlete has received in a contract. Trout is still ahead in terms of total money ($426.5M vs $392M), but this is an absolutely fantastic deal for a legitimate superstar. In a time when most, if not all, the teams in the MLB are trying to save money, the Dodgers just added $360 million in future commitments.
But what does the Dodgers signing Mookie Betts have to do with JT Realmuto? A fairly good amount, actually.
At the start of spring training it seemed the Phillies were on their way to signing their resident Gold Glover and Silver Slugger to a deal that would make him the highest paid catcher in the history of baseball. Realmuto proved to all of the MLB that he’s the best catcher in baseball. Slashing .275/.328/.493 with 25 HRs and 83 RBIs while throwing out 47% of runners trying to steal on him proved as much.
JT had shown a strong desire to stay here long term. It was a mutual desire by the team as well. Jim Salisbury at NBCSports Philadelphia had reported that Realmuto would sign a 5-year contract extension with the Phillies that averaged between $23M-$25M before the end of spring training. Then the shutdown happened, and the sides haven’t talked since.
For the Phillies, Betts signing this mega deal with the Dodgers puts all the pressure on them for a few different reasons. The Dodgers taking Betts off the free agent market means that JT will be the prize of this year’s free agent class, which was generally regarded as weak prior to Betts signing his deal. Teams are going to be lining up to get a chance with Realmuto, and for good reason.
With everything going on in 2020, the feeling amongst owners and executives was teams would be much more careful with their money. With Betts signing this deal, any chance of Realmuto’s price going down due to future financial uncertainty seems to have gone out the window. Realmuto is not going to be signing for anything close to what Betts did, as Betts is younger and plays a high value position. That being said, this deal ensures that when Realmuto signs, it will be for top dollar.
The Phillies need to get this deal done. I do believe they will eventually get it done due to John Middleton being more involved, but the longer that this draws out the more anxious the rest of the fan base and I will feel. The already passionate disdain for the front office by the fan base will just get stronger and a dark cloud will cover what seems like it could be a very promising season for the Fightin’ Phils.
JT has made it clear: he wants to reset the catchers market. That’s why he went to arbitration. That’s why he will hold out until he gets the contract that makes him the highest paid catcher in history. Let’s just hope the Phillies get this done sooner rather than later.