Phillies

Why J.T. Realmuto’s contract extension with the Phillies might take some time

Why J.T. Realmuto’s contract extension with the Phillies might take some time

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Phillies went into this offseason prioritizing a contract extension for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Even as the Phils pursue pitching and possibly a third baseman, they are quietly trying to hammer out that extension, according to multiples sources. 

But the extension might not come before the New Year. It might not even come before the opening of spring training.

Don’t panic. Realmuto solidified his status as the top catcher in baseball by winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in 2019. The Phillies very much want to prevent him from becoming a free agent after next season and Realmuto, for months, has professed his affection for the Phillies and Philadelphia as well as his desire to stick around.

“Everything I’ve experienced in Philadelphia has been awesome so I wouldn’t be opposed to spending the rest of my career there,” he said in July. 

In order to preserve some payroll flexibility for the 2020 season, it is possible that the Phillies could sign Realmuto to a one-year contract this winter — he projects to make about $10.5 million in his final arbitration year — then subsequently finalize a separate multi-year extension that would kick in at the start of the 2021 season. The extension could be finalized and announced later this offseason or even in spring training.

Realmuto, who turns 29 in March, is projected to get an extension of four or five years with an average annual value of $20 million or more. By starting the extension in 2021, the AAV of Realmuto’s deal would not count toward the 2020 payroll and thus affect luxury-tax calculations. For tax purposes, the Phillies currently have about $116 million committed to nine players for 2020. Even with Realmuto’s 2020 salary still to be determined and raises due to a number of other players, the Phils do not appear to be in jeopardy of reaching the $208 million tax threshold in 2020 and have the room to pursue top free agents. But pushing Realmuto’s extension back to 2021 would allow for even more room under the tax threshold and that could come in handy this winter or even at the July trade deadline.

After the 2020 season, the Phils will gain some payroll flexibility as Jake Arrieta’s $25 million AAV and David Robertson’s $11.5 million AAV come off the books just as Realmuto’s extension would kick in.

The Phillies have never exceeded the tax threshold. Teams exceeding it for the first time pay 20 percent on every dollar they go over. Last month, owner John Middleton offered his thoughts about exceeding the tax threshold.

“I’m not going to go over the luxury tax so we have a better chance to be the second wild-card team,” Middleton said. “That’s not going to happen. I think you go over the luxury tax when you’re fighting for the World Series. If you have to sign Cliff Lee and that puts you over the tax, you do it. If you have to trade for Roy Halladay and sign him to an extension and that puts you over the tax, you do it. But you don’t do it for a little gain.”

Other than expressing a desire to extend the relationship, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has steadfastly declined comment on the status of talks with Realmuto on a possible extension. Klentak continued that tack at this week’s GM meetings.

“We love J.T.,” Klentak said. “Every week, it seems like he’s winning a new award. What all of that is doing is confirming what a lot of us have felt for a long time. This guy is the real deal. He can do everything. At some point in this offseason, we will likely talk to him about trying to keep him in the fold beyond his control years and hopefully we’ll line up on something.”

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A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

The Phillies finally got their slugger of the future.

That’s what Phillies fans and many people around the game were thinking after Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player in MLB history to slug 18 career home runs, accomplishing the feat in 34 games. Hoskins set the mark in a win against the Miami Marlins on September 14th, 2017 and you can relive it today on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

That home run off of former Phillie Vance Worley would also be the last of Hoskins’ rookie campaign. In the two seasons that have followed since, Hoskins has hit a more-than-respectable 63 total home runs. But his slugging percentage dropped in each season since 2017, going from .618 SLG as a rookie to .454 SLG in 2019.

So, where does Hoskins go from here? It would be overly critical to question whether Hoskins will be a one-year wonder. He has posted solid, if not spectacular, power numbers since that first season. But he also hasn’t been anywhere near the conversation for best power hitters in the National League either.

Here’s a reason for optimism: As much as he said the right things, my sense is that Hoskins was negatively impacted by the launch angle, pitch-taking mindset set forth as dogma by the Gabe Kapler regime. Hoskins already possesses those tendencies naturally. Adding more thought to the equation led to plate paralysis. As walks increased, production diminished from a player that this franchise is counting upon to create runs. With Joe Girardi and hitting coach Joe Dillon at the helm, there’s reason to think we’ll see Hoskins get back to “see ball, hit ball” mode.

It also can’t hurt to have a full season under his belt with Bryce Harper. While the two have a good relationship, it couldn’t have been easy to go from leading man to best supporting actor status. That dynamic should come more comfortably for Hoskins in the seasons ahead.

Who knows what the 2020 season will look like? Or if we’ll even have a season? But my bet is that Hoskins figures it out and puts together a 40 home run season in the not-too-distant future.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

A special guest joined the Phillies Talk podcast Friday: former Phillies All-Star and World Series champion Shane Victorino.

• Victorino on the sports shutdown

• His love of Philly, the fans and how they embraced him

• Why Philly made such a difference in his life

• The confidence that Charlie Manuel and Gene Lamont gave him

• Shane on his famous walk-off outfield assist

• Victorino's 40-yard dash vs. Troy Polamalu

• Victorino on Bryce Harper

• His message to Phillies fans

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