The Phillies and catcher J.T. Realmuto wound up in arbitration to decide on a dollar amount that the veteran catcher will receive for the 2020 season. When both sides had made their arguments, the arbitrator sided with the Phillies and set Realmuto’s contract for 2020 at $10-million. Realmuto had asked for $12.4-million, but even in losing the case, he received an amount higher than any catcher has ever been awarded in their third year of arbitration eligibility.
One of the reasons why Realmuto asked for the higher amount was his belief that catchers are underpaid and he was public about the fact that he was hoping to receive the higher award not just for him, but for catchers who will be heading into arbitration in the future. The highest previous award for a catcher was $8.75-million that was given to Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles.
The two sides were amicable toward each other, but just viewed the process differently. The Phillies believed their offer, which was higher than the one given to Wieters previously, was fair by the current standards. Realmuto hoped to set a higher standard based on the importance of the position to a team.
The case also has significance for the Phillies since they are seeking to stay under the luxury tax number for 2020. They are currently around $3-million under the tax and the higher figure would have eaten up much of that remaining money.
Both sides are interested in working out a long-term contract and will likely begin that process in the very near future. Currently, the highest paid catcher in the majors is Yasmani Grandal of the White Sox, who signed a four-year $73-million deal for an average annual salary of $18.25-million. It’s likely that both sides will start their negotiations above the annual average number and it’s not out of the question that the Phillies would give Realmuto a five-year deal rather than a four-year contract like Grandal received. The final number could likely be in the area of five years and $100-million.