Philadelphia Phillies: J.T. Realmuto and other arbitration revelations

The Philadelphia Phillies and all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto will be headed to arbitration to determine his 2020 salary, just one of several pieces of news on the team’s financial front.

The deadline for the Philadelphia Phillies and J.T. Realmuto to agree to a contract for 2020 came and went, meaning that player and club will be headed to salary arbitration to determine the size of Realmuto’s bank account for the upcoming season.

But don’t worry, Realmuto isn’t going anywhere. At least, that’s what the Phillies are leading us to believe when they say they are looking to sign him long-term. In truth, they’ve really backed themselves into a corner here. Realmuto is such a rare commodity at the catching position that you basically have to give him whatever he wants, even taking into account a probable regression that will be coming in a few years.

Realmuto could lose five percent of his value for each of the next five years and still be among the top half-dozen all-around catchers in the league. He’s at the top of the list right now, of course, and that’s what will come into play when any financial decisions are made.

And so it really doesn’t matter if the arbitration panel ultimately sides with Realmuto on a figure of $12.4 million or the $10 million that the Phillies filed. Realmuto is going to get paid one way or another. It may even happen before the hearing is held. This whole thing ends up being a formality as far as Realmuto is concerned, because the Phillies have to sign him.

They have to. There is no other option. You can’t let the best catcher in the game get away if you’re serious about competing for a title. So let’s all just chill and wait for the news that he’ll be a Phillie for years to come.

In other news, Hector Neris is also in for a hefty raise, which will either be the Phillies’ offer of $4.25 million or the $5.2 that Neris’ camp is seeking. Again, nothing to worry about here. Aside from his blip of a 2018 season, Neris has been excellent for the Phillies. There’s something to be said for guys who can take the ball when you need them to do so. He’s worth the higher figure.

In other news, the Phillies actually did agree to deals with several players, all pitchers, before letting their cases get to the arbitration stage. Some quick thoughts:

  • Adam Morgan ($1.525 million) seems like an absolute steal to me. And I can’t believe I’m saying that after the guy was an absolute punchline a few years ago when he was miscast as a starter. But he’s gotten the job done lately. He might lose some value as a lefty specialist thanks to MLB’s three-batter rule, but he can still be an important member of the ‘pen.
  • Jose Alvarez ($2.95 million) was impressive in his first season with the Phillies last year. His new contract seems like it could also be a bargain for the team. With him and Morgan back in the fold, the Phillies have two reliable left-handed arms to mix and match with.
  • Zach Eflin ($2.625 million) could go either way. I feel like this is the year where he either shows himself as a very capable #3/#4 starter or fades into borderline status. This can very much be viewed as a “prove it” contract.
  • Vince Velasquez ($3.6 million) feels like he just got a “cost of living” raise, except his salary went up over $1 million from last year and not whatever feeble figure us regular people get if we’re lucky. Man, I can’t wait until this experiment is finally over.
Next: Could the Phillies top the NL East?

It’s only the second week of January, but we are already careening towards the 2020 season, one that will prove to be critical for this franchise. And the Phillies are going to need all of the players we’ve discussed here to be part of the solution to finally get this team over the hump.

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