After months of waiting, the Phillies have finally signed J.T. Realmuto. The deal is worth $115.5 million over five years with an AAV of $23.1 million according to Craig Mish. The $23.1 million annual average salary is the most ever for a catcher. ESPN's Jeff Passan confirmed the terms of the contract.
Joe Mauer previously held the largest AAV for a backstop. The 2009 MVP and six-time all-star was given an eight year, $184 million contract back in 2010, with an annual average salary of $23 million. Mauer's production significantly declined after signing the contract, but much of that is attributed to the multitude of injuries he suffered in the following seasons. Mauer was 27 at the time of the deal, coming off his third gold glove award and fourth silver slugger.
No catcher since has topped a contract over $85 million.
Realmuto and the Phillies finally landed on a deal after nearly a year of conversations that date back to pre-Spring Training in 2020. The Phillies made a five years, $100 million offer in the middle of January that did not surpass the $23 million AAV threshold which was long sought after by Realmuto's team.
The Braves became a late player in the process, reportedly seeking a short-term deal. Most of the speculation behind the team's involvement was to drive up the price for a division rival.
Realmuto has undoubtably been the best catcher in baseball over the last several seasons. He ranks at the top or second in home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, slugging percentage, caught stealing, and WAR among catchers over the last two seasons.