Realmuto signing must be the first of many if Phillies are to compete

JT Realmuto Phillies
The Phillies lock up JT Realmuto long-term. Photo from Philadelphia Inquirer.

All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto has agreed to a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Realmuto becomes the highest-paid catcher in MLB history.

After an offseason of bizarre comments from the franchise’s hierarchy, Realmuto’s future was never clear. Staying with the Phillies always made the most sense. Yet, the organization were not quick to sign their catching star. Perhaps this contract can be viewed as a compromise – Realmuto gets his big number, but the Phillies avoid the sort of lengthy commitment they gave to Bryce Harper.

Whispers of a Phillies rebuild have been quashed. This will be the headline of the Phillies’ offseason moves, but it cannot be the last significant addition.

Philadelphia is reportedly still in the shortstop market. That is the first of the issues to solve. A center fielder would be nice too, though they will face stern competition if they go after Jackie Bradley Jr. Roman Quinn can be okay short-term. A trade for Kevin Kiermaier would be useful.

How the Phillies follow up the Realmuto signing will be an indication of how serious the franchise is about competing. This roster, as it stands, is nowhere near the Mets or Braves. A case can be made it isn’t better than the Nationals or Marlins, too. They are 16th in projected fWAR, comfortably behind the Nationals and Braves and roughly a mile behind the Mets.

Ownership made their excuses earlier in the offseason. Is Realmuto a signing to keep the fans happy? Or is the start of a big market team spending their way into contention? The Phillies can stick with the core of what they’ve got now and they might make the playoffs. To really go toe-to-toe with the National League’s elite, they need much more.

The rotation behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler is an obvious issue. Jake Odorizzi is an option. Other starters will be on the trade market, though they might have missed opportunities in that regard with Jameson Taillon and Joe Musgrove being dealt.

Jose Alvarado was a smart bullpen addition. There’s plenty of stuff and upside in their relief corps, but a couple more arms would be handy. Spending big on the bullpen doesn’t guarantee success, though it’s an area Phillies ownership can bolster if they are willing to spend.


Realmuto alone does not make the Phillies much better than a .500 team on paper. Signing one of the game’s best catchers is always exciting, but it can still be an underwhelming offseason if this is the end of the Phillies’ activity.

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About Sam Cox 694 Articles
Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play.

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