PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies seem to believe they are making progress on re-signing J.T. Realmuto.
The Athletic reported on Friday night that the Phillies made Realmuto a five-year offer worth “slightly north” of $100 million. It is well below Realmuto’s asking price at the end of last Spring Training -- he hoped to land a $200 million deal -- and possibly below the record average annual value for a catcher.
Joe Mauer holds the AAV record for catchers at $23 million, when he signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Twins from 2011-18.
The Phillies’ offer would need to be better than $115 million to pass Mauer’s mark.
It is an important number for Realmuto and his agent Jeff Berry. Their stance has always been the same: catchers are underpaid and Realmuto should be paid as one of the best players in baseball anyway.
It is difficult to argue that point, but it remains to be seen if Realmuto gets closer to what he feels he deserves. But with Spring Training scheduled to open next month, perhaps there finally will be some movement with the game’s top-tier free agents. DJ LeMahieu on Friday agreed to a six-year, $90 million deal with the Yankees, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Mark Feinsand.
Trevor Bauer, George Springer and Marcell Ozuna also remain unsigned.
The Mets were considered a prime destination for Realmuto, but New York preferred to fill that hole more quickly and signed James McCann instead. LeMahieu’s deal with the Yankees probably takes them out of the running. The Blue Jays continue to be mentioned as a possibility, but they reportedly prefer Springer. The Angels just signed Kurt Suzuki, so they seem likely to spend any remaining dollars elsewhere.
The fact that Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and his wife had lunch with Realmuto and his wife in Oklahoma just before Christmas -- Dombrowski’s wife is from the state -- plus this week’s reported nine-figure offer could be seen as a sign the Phillies like their chances to bring back the best catcher in baseball.
Now they just need to get it done.