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Phillies Must 'Return the Favor' This Offseason to J.T. Realmuto

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

This Phillies season has been a “roller coaster ride” of emotions. After Opening Weekend, the city was electric — after the club swept the Atlanta Braves, and seemed poised to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2011. But, now, we sit here in September hanging on to what little faith is left, as the team fights to sneak into the second and final National League Wild Card spot in the 11th hour.

Through everything the team has gone through this season, one bright spot has been the acquisition and play of catcher J.T. Realmuto. After giving up top prospect RHP Sixto Sanchez and fellow catcher Jorge Alfaro to the Miami Marlins for Realmuto, expectations were high. Realmuto has given the Phillies a huge return on investment.

The two-time All-Star has been one of the best Phillies players this season. On the year, entering Sunday, Realmuto is batting .282 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI. Through six games this month alone, Realmuto is batting .400 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. It’s hard to imagine the Phillies still being in the mix this season without his hard work.

As the season winds down, it is time to start looking ahead to the 2020 season, even if there still remains slight hope of a 2019 postseason berth. This winter, the Phillies have the opportunity to return the favor to Realmuto, as he is due for an extension. The Phillies should not hesitate to give him whatever he wants. At the age of 28, he will most likely not get a long extension, but should still be due for a nice payday after his stellar first season in red pinstripes.

I think a good extension for Realmuto would be somewhere in the range of 4 years and $100 million. This would lock him up for the current window of the Phillies to compete, and puts him at an AAV just under Bryce Harper.

Realmuto has more than earned this kind of extension. As of right now, he is currently on pace for career highs in games, hits, home runs, and RBIs. Not to mention, the fantastic work he has done defensively behind the plate. He currently leads all National League catchers in runners caught stealing (41), and has a caught stealing percentage of 48.2%, according to Baseball-Reference.

It has been said on multiple occasions, but J.T. might easily be the “Best Catcher in Baseball.” After what the Phillies gave up to acquire him, they cannot afford to lose him to free agency.

Another reason why the Phillies need to pay Realmuto is that he has been huge for them down the stretch. As we have hit the end of the season where every game matters for a team chasing October, Realmuto has only stepped up his game. Since the All-Star break, he is batting .296 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI. His hot play at the plate has been huge for the Phillies in this Wild Card hunt.

Realmuto has done countless things to deserve a big contract extension from the Phillies, and the Phillies need to make it a priority to return the favor to him this winter. He has been one of the most consistent players all year, and has been an absolute workhorse for Gabe Kapler. He is playing almost every day, which is incredible for the catcher position. Not to mention, he is very close to Harper, which is just another reason why he needs to be here for the coming seasons.

Realmuto is one of if not the best at his position. He fits in with good with this core age-wise, and has been nothing but reliable for the team this season. Locking him up and keeping him as a vital piece for the heart of this order is crucial for the Phillies, as they look to compete in the coming years.

The question should not be if, but when, the Phillies extend Realmuto, and for how much.

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