J.T. Realmuto is returning to Philadelphia after all. The star catcher and the Phillies are in agreement on a five-year, $115.5 million deal, a source told MLB.com on Tuesday. The club has not confirmed the agreement.
The contract as reported has the highest average annual value (AAV) for a catcher in MLB history at $23.1 million, surpassing the $23 million AAV in Joe Mauer’s 2010 contract extension with the Twins. Realmuto’s deal also establishes a new record for a free-agent contract for a catcher, topping Brian McCann’s $85 million pact with the Yankees in 2013.
The agreement includes a $20 million salary this year, but with $10 million of it deferred, to be paid in $5 million installments in 2026 and ’27, and a salary of $23.875 million per year from 2022-25. A $1 million relocation payment is included in case Realmuto is traded, according to a source.
As one of the best backstops in the game, Realmuto was a hot commodity in free agency. In 2019, his first season with the Phillies after a blockbuster trade from Miami, he won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. In ‘20 he posted the best offensive numbers of his career with a 123 OPS+ and 11 home runs in 195 plate appearances, all while controlling the running game as well as just about anybody in the Majors.
Realmuto declined the $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Phillies, opting to test the open market for the first time in his career. After being drafted by the Marlins in the third round of the 2010 Draft, he spent the first five years of his career in Miami before being sent to Philadelphia in a package that included right-hander Sixto Sánchez.
The 29-year-old catcher is a career .278 hitter with a 111 OPS+, and he’s a two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger winner. From 2017-19, Realmuto’s 15.0 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, ranked first among catchers and 13th among all position players.