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Phillies: Realmuto’s Negotiating Details for 2021


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For many Philadelphia Phillies fans, 2021’s success hinges on re-signing JT Realmuto because their questions and comments indicate this is priority number one. But high-octane doubts are stubborn obstacles superseding even contrary information as if to cushion an anticipated disappointment. Ergo, no reason for reason. 


A Neutral View:

Some Phillies faithful measure time differently than MLB front offices under normal circumstances, but now COVID-19 has lengthened those weeks and months with entirely new financial parameters. Basically, players will be available who would not be in pre-coronavirus times.  


“One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.” - Gilbert K. Chesterton

For me, writing opinion pieces involves daily MLB research to analyze how the offseason market will affect the Fightins. Therefore, the idea is to get close enough for a basic forecast, not wishful thinking. To illustrate, Realmuto’s situation combines many facets to produce a reasonable expectation for this winter. 

Considerations for the Phillies and Realmuto:

  • The major leagues’ timeline and deadlines.
  • Time estimates.
  • Financials and medicals.
  • Negotiating strategies.
  • Phils’ shortcomings.
  • Statistical evaluations by age and MLB service time.
  • The competition: their needs and finances.

Many fans have the same questions and view of roster construction. However, management isn’t always at fault but is the scapegoat because the faithful are loathe to blame the star. They root for the player until he disappoints them based on their expectations. 

Phillies Fans’ Questions:

  • Why don’t they pay Realmuto what he wants and re-sign him immediately?
  • Why didn’t the billionaire owner ink him a year ago?

For now, the red pinstripes will have roughly $62.4 million AAV (average annual value) available to fill out their active 25 before reaching the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) of $210 million. And they need a catcher, a middle infielder, a three- or-four-slot starter and two critical-inning relievers.        

For example only, Didi Gregorius’ estimate is $13 million AAV, and the arms will cost about $19 million AAV: Taijuan Walker ($8 million AAV), Brad Hand ($7 million AAV) and Jose Alvarez ($4 million AAV). So, the total is $32 million AAV for a left-handed bat with pop, a three- or-four-slot hurler, a closer and a setup man.   

With $32.4 million AAV left, the Phils can sign a receiver and wait for Realmuto to decide after he hits his ceiling in a depressed free-agent market. And keep in mind, the predictions for top-tier stars are $100-125 million, not $150-200 million. And national forecasters don’t expect clubs to overpay or make multiple splashes. 

The Fightins will also need an eighth reliever and a utility infielder or left-side bench bat from the $32.4 million AAV. Ergo, they can add those pieces and a secondary backstop (plan B) plus have $25 million AAV for Realmuto with $7.4 million AAV for 2-3 other players.    

Except for me --that I’m aware of-- many locals blame the front office for failing to re-sign Realmuto, but he can decline even an overpay proposal, no? In fact, the Miami Marlins traded him because he demanded Buster Posey money to re-up: $159 million for eight years: approximately $20 million per 162.         

While Realmuto’s final arbitration was last offseason, it revealed his thinking with the exchange of his $12.4 million figure to the Figntins’ $10 million. But his number was 22.7 percent above his projected value of $10.3 million. Yes, he lost his case because he --again-- wanted exorbitant compensation. 

If the Phillies offered Realmuto $200 million for 7-8 campaigns, he could reject it, and their proposal would be the baseline going forward for other negotiations. Translation: No rule or norm exists for the All-Star catcher to accept his own asking price. 


Phillies Competition:



New York Yankees

Cost cutting at least $55 million.

Boston Red Sox

Traded Mookie Betts to get under the CBT.

Chicago White Sox

They signed a free-agent catcher for 2020-23.    

Los Angeles Angels

Going nowhere without a solid pitching staff.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Signed Mookie Betts with 31 percent in deferred money.

Chicago Cubs

Regulars available including their catcher to cut costs.

Washington Nationals

Catching isn’t a priority.

New York Mets

The competition for Realmuto.


CAA Sports, the All-Star’s agent, is expecting a negotiation from managing partner John Middleton because this is the traditional method of doing business with a major league organization. Realistically, if a player and his agent receive a fair offer, who is blocking them from accepting it? No one!                                   

Capitulation is not an option for a general manager, a president or an owner, but giving a player whatever he wants describes it. Unfortunately, an average agent for the next top hometown free agent will demand double because Middleton will obviously want his player to be happy.          

For front offices, baseball has transactional dates allowing teams time to evaluate their talent and their circumstances. And Dec. 2 is the non-tender deadline, so teams have until 8 p.m. to tender a contract to arb-eligible personnel, or the player becomes a free agent, who can re-up with the same club for a lesser amount.  

Four days later, the Winter Meetings (Dec. 6-10) will start but won’t be an in-person event. And this is when finalized actions will occur, or new serious deals will begin. Translation: Don’t fret if only sporadic activity is happening before then because that’s business as usual.                          

Most clues will come when franchises make offers and acquisitions. But which organizations will wait for Realmuto, and which ones will go in another direction? Well, some will pursue another receiver, while others will bid elsewhere for a right-handed hitter with power.  

The starting pitcher’s market has two one-season inkings: The Toronto Blue Jays have re-signed Rob Ray for $8 million, and the Atlanta Braves picked up Drew Smyly for $11 million. However, he wanted to cash in on two solid months with the San Francisco Giants by asking for $30 million for three summers. 

These early signings were overpays for two questionable arms. As for Smyly, he made five starts and two relief appearances for 26 ⅓ innings and produced a 3.42 ERA. Apparently, the pandemic-influenced appeal of these two moundsmen was the one-year commitment.  

One team many fans might consider competition for Realmuto is the Chicago Cubs, but they are open to swapping many regulars including backstop Wilson Contreras, who has two seasons of control and a $6.2 million arb estimate. Ergo, they’re dumping salary, but they have four stars they’ll probably keep.     

The New York Mets are the top rival for Realmuto, but they also need a right-side bat with power to offset a left-heavy lineup especially after slugger Pete Alonso had a .231 average in ‘20. Moreover, they also have interest in George Springer and Marcell Ozuna, and inking one may be preferable to the wait for Realmuto. 

In fact, the Metropolitans could acquire a solid catcher and Springer before 2020’s end. And the new owner may want to make an immediate splash his top priority instead of a mid-January battle for Realmuto with the Phillies. Realistically, the best MLB receiver will most likely be a late signing.          

Robinson Cano’s 162-game PED suspension frees up $20.25 million AAV only for ‘21. However, the Mets will probably need another $20 million AAV in ‘22 to keep free agents-to-be Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. But inking Springer and Realmuto plus those four could total $130 million AAV.   

Besides free-agent backstops and Contreras, there could be seven non-tender candidates available including Gary Sanchez and Austin Hedges. So, making a long-term commitment with Realmuto is far from a settled issue, but all we can do now is wait for more clues.                  

Through research, I base my thinking on the above information, tells, and possibilities. And if you don’t even consider slightly adjusting your view, are you saying you will only accept the roster you prefer? Well, are you? 



MacPhail’s Head Fake for 2020-21



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John Clutcher

How does this $153 million - 6 year contract sound for Realmuto? Lower early for the Phillies to recover from Covid related revenue loss.
2021 - 18 million
2022 - 21 million
2023 - 24 million
2024 - 27 million
2025 - 30 million
2026 - 33 million

Tal Venada

Firstly, thanks for reading.

I heard the Phils had already offered JT $125 million for 5 years with a club option for a 6th campaign before the pandemic. And MacPhail made a fourth run at him a month ago.

His market has to develop before the Phillies would make another offer because JP must know he couldn't have done better if he takes even $160 million now.

Unfortunately, the next date for a clue might come around Dec. 7 or 8.

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