Should the Angels break the bank to sign J.T. Realmuto?
It wouldn’t be right making this article about which available catchers the Angels should sign without mentioning J.T. Realmuto. Should they sign him? Considering his skill set, absolutely. As far as how much he’s going to cost, I would take a pass.
The 29-year old catcher has the fifth-highest WAR3 (10.3) among active free agents. That alone might warrant a team to spend around $25-$30million, per year on Realmuto.
J.T. Realmuto Last Five Seasons:
- 2016: (137 games) .303 BA 11 HR 48 RBI .771 OPS
- 2017: (141 games) .278 BA 17 HR 65 RBI .783 OPS
- 2018: (125 games) .277 BA 21 HR 74 RBI .825 OPS (All-Star)
- 2019: (145 games) .275 BA 25 HR 83 RBI .820 OPS (All-Star)
- 2020: (47 games) .266 BA 11 HR 32 RBI .840 OPS
His numbers are some of the best amongst catchers, but I think the Angels should avoid this for a few reasons. Having the league’s highest-paid player in Mike Trout, along with Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols not far behind means dedicating this amount of money makes things difficult for the future.
The payroll will decrease significantly in the next few years so it’s not impossible to write this check for Realmuto, but I think there are other viable options of bringing a catcher the Angels should consider. The organization could then spend that money elsewhere like starting pitching while bringing in a more affordable option behind the plate.
The current record for the most expensive MLB catcher is held by Joe Mauer. The former Twin made just two all-star appearances after signing his 8-year, $184 contract in 2011. I’m not trying to say Mauer was no good, he was a solid player with a career .306 BA. His overall offensive statistics prior were far better than what he did after he inked his big contract.
There’s no way of knowing for sure if the same will happen to Realmuto, but it’s worth noting Mauer wasn’t just the best hitting catcher at the time of his mega-deal, but one of the best overall players in the entire league. Mauer had four all-star appearances, four silver slugger awards, three gold gloves, and was the AL MVP in 2009.
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It’s a risk to sign a catcher for this much money. I would rather take the gamble of trading prospects for Contreras who is under team control through the 2022 season.