Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The verdict is in.

The Phillies have beaten catcher J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The All-Star catcher will make $10 million in 2020. Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last season, had sought $12.4 million in arbitration.

An arbitration panel heard arguments from both sides during a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix and on Thursday informed the parties that it had decided in the team’s favor.

Realmuto is back from Arizona and was seen hitting in the cage Thursday afternoon at Carpenter Complex but was unavailable for comment.

Despite losing his case, Realmuto will still make a record salary for an arbitration-eligible catcher. The previous record was held by Mike Napoli, who made $9.4 million with the Texas Rangers in 2012.

The Phillies had not been involved in an arbitration hearing since 2008 when they lost to Ryan Howard. He made $10 million that season.

Arbitration hearings can sometimes create hard feelings between a team and a player, but Realmuto has thus far been able to chalk up the entire process to the business of baseball. 

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said on Monday. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way I’m happy.”

Surely, the Phillies hope Realmuto maintains that posture in the coming weeks as the two sides begin to explore a contract extension that will keep the player from becoming a free agent at season’s end.

Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. The Phillies would like to get a deal done during spring training.

“It would be nice to have some resolution prior to opening day just so it’s not a distraction to mostly the player but even to us during the season,” general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this spring. “I still feel very strongly that I would like to do that. Everyone in our organization does.”

The Phillies acquired Realmuto in a trade with Miami in February 2019. He went on to have a big year in his first season in Philadelphia. In addition to making the All-Star team, he was the catcher on the inaugural All-MLB team, and he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the National League. He led all big-league catchers in hits, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits while swatting a career-high 25 homers. He threw out 37 runners trying to steal, the most in the majors.

The Phillies have an arbitration hearing with reliever Hector Neris on Friday. Neris is seeking $5.2 million and the Phillies filed at $4.25 million. He made $1.8 million last season.

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