After months of uncertainty, the Phillies finally gave us exactly what we wanted. Many fans were holding off their excitement until this deal crossed the finish line, but we can all share a sigh of relief knowing that the best catcher in baseball is staying in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
Five years and $115.5 million is a incredible contract for both team and player, making JT likely to finish his career with the Phillies.
Realmuto, who was acquired from the Marlins in exchange for a package led by top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, has been everything that the Phillies have expected and more. During his two seasons with the team, Realmuto has slashed .273/.333/.492 with 36 HRs and 115 RBIs. He won the Silver Slugger in 2019, an award given to the best hitter at each position, a year in which he made his first All Star team. He followed up with a strong 2020, hitting as many balls 95 mph or harder as Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Pete Alonso did. Losing his bat in the lineup would have hurt the Phillies as a team, but also, would have given Bryce Harper less protection in the lineup.
More importantly, however, is what he brings on the defensive side. Realmuto has played above average defense behind the plate for almost his entire career. He has thrown out 36% of runners that attempt to steal on him, which is good enough for the seventh best mark among active catchers. He has finished in the Top 5 for catcher’s Pop Time (the time from the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to when the ball reaches the fielder’s projected receiving point) each of the last six seasons, finishing first 2017-2019. For pop time, the MLB average is 2.01 seconds, whereas Realmuto consistently clocks in around 1.90 seconds. Along with the above average pop, Realmuto has finished in the Top 5 in arm strength each of the last six seasons. While he wasn’t always the best receiver/framer, Realmuto has worked hard to improve that skill to the point where it is now above average.
When it comes down to it, the Phillies didn’t really have a choice here. If they didn’t bring Realmuto back, the starting catcher would have been Andrew Knapp. While he had a good offensive season last year, his career numbers leave much to be desired. Also, he is arguably one of the worst defensive catchers in the game. I swear the Phillies lose 8-10 strikes every game because of how poorly he receives the ball. For a team who is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Knapp sure wouldn’t be the catcher you go to war with.
With this deal being completed, look for the Phillies to continue to address the bullpen and search for a shortstop. The Phillies have some money to spend, and there is a certain Knight still out on the market who looked good in the Phillies’ pinstripes last year.
Maybe, we can get #SignDidi trending now.