PHILADELPHIA — The “Sign J.T.” chants from fans gathered outside the ballpark during the pandemic-altered season and echoed by Bryce Harper and many players on the Philadelphia Phillies were loud and clear.
The Philadelphia Phillies and two-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto agreed Tuesday on a $115.5 million, five-year contract, two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Realmuto’s deal was pending a successful physical.
Realmuto gets $20 million next season, of which $10 million is deferred, with $5 million each payable in 2026 and 2027. He gets $23,875,000 in each of the final four years.
He does not have a no-trade provision. The deal includes a $1 million assignment bonus if traded.
Realmuto’s average annual salary of $23.1 million will become the highest for a catcher, topping the $23 million Joe Mauer averaged in a $184 million, eight-year deal with the Minnesota Twins that covered 2011-18.
Harper posted a photo of him and Realmuto celebrating a run on Instagram soon after the news broke. Reliever Archie Bradley wrote “SignJT” on Twitter after he signed a one-year deal last week.
Realmuto was acquired from the Marlins in February 2019 in a trade that sent right-hander Sixto Sanchez and catcher Jorge Alfaro to Miami along with pitching prospect Will Stewart and $250,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation.
Realmuto made his second NL All-Star team with the Phillies in 2019 and earned a Gold Glove. He had career-highs in homers (25), RBIs (83) and slugging percentage (.493) that season.
Realmuto, who turns 30 in March, hit .266 with 11 homers, 32 RBIs and a career-best OPS of .840 last season. He earned $3,703,704 prorated for the pandemic-shortened season from a $10 million salary.
His deal is the second-largest of the off-season behind outfielder George Springer’s $150 million, six-year contract with Toronto.
Realmuto’s market narrowed last month when the New York Mets went for a less expensive option and signed James McCann to a $40.6 million, four-year deal.
The Phillies haven’t had a winning season nor reached the post-season since 2011. They finished 28-32 under first-year manager Joe Girardi in 2020, missing a wild-card berth by one game.
Retaining Realmuto, a fan-favourite, was a priority for new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. Giving Bradley a $6 million, one-year deal had been Philadelphia’s most significant off-season move to this point.