When the Phillies traded for J.T. Realmuto nine months ago, general manager Matt Klentak said he believed they acquired the best all-around catcher in baseball.
Realmuto now has two awards to support that boast.
Four days after winning his first career Gold Glove, Realmuto received the Silver Slugger, presented annually to the top offensive player at every position in each league as determined by managers and coaches. The award, announced Thursday night, was the first Silver Slugger for a Phillies player since Chase Utley in 2009.
Realmuto was chosen over Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal and Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs. He led the National League in hits (144), doubles (36), runs batted in (79) and stolen bases (nine) as a catcher, and ranked second in batting average (.281) and slugging (.497), third in homers (23) and fourth in OPS (.832) by NL catchers with at least 200 at-bats.
With 25 homers overall, including one as a first baseman and one as a pinch-hitter, Realmuto went deep more often than any Phillies catcher since Mike Lieberthal hit 31 in 1999.
The Phillies are expected to discuss a multiyear contract extension with Realmuto, who will turn 29 in March and is under club control for one more season before being eligible for free agency. He made $5.9 million this year and could nearly double his annual salary through arbitration.
One potential comparison for a Realmuto deal: Yadier Molina's five-year, $75 million extension with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 when he was 29. Allowing for salary inflation over the last dozen years, Realmuto could be looking at something in the $100 million neighborhood.
“That’s a conversation we’ll definitely have this offseason,” Realmuto said after the final game of the season. “I’m certainly not opposed to staying here. I love playing here in Philadelphia. I love the crowd. I love the fans. I love my team. So, we’ll see how that goes in the offseason.”
It figures to help Realmuto’s negotiating power that he’s only the 10th catcher since the Silver Slugger was conceived in 1980 to win both the Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season. The others: Gary Carter (1981-82), Lance Parrish (1983-84), Benito Santiago (1988, 1990), Pudge Rodriguez (1994-99, 2004), Jason Varitek (2005), Russell Martin (2007), Joe Mauer (2008-10), Molina (2013) and Salvador Perez (2016, 2018).
Realmuto won the Silver Slugger last year, too, as a member of the Miami Marlins. The last repeat winner among NL catchers was San Francisco’s Buster Posey in 2014-15. Posey, who signed the longest deal ever for a catcher with a nine-year, $167 million extension at age 26 before the 2013 season, won four Silver Sluggers in a six-year span from 2012-17.
With 34 homers and an .876 OPS, Bryce Harper presented the Phillies’ next-best case for a Silver Slugger and was among a half-dozen finalists for NL outfielders. But the award went to Cody Bellinger (35 homers, 1.063 OPS for the Los Angeles Dodgers), Christian Yelich (44 homers, 1.127 OPS for the Milwaukee Brewers) and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. (41 homers, .883 OPS).