Tag Archives: Joe Mauer

J.T. Realmuto likely to receive record deal for catchers

Friday was the deadline for all MLB clubs to come to agreements with their arbitration-eligible players. In the event no deal could be reached, both sides were to submit 2020 salary figures on which an arbitrator would make a final ruling at hearings to be scheduled in February.

The Philadelphia Phillies were able to come to an agreement with four of the six players, all pitchers, who were eligible.

Agreeing to one-year deals with the club were projected starting pitchers Vince Velasquez ($3.6 million) and Zach Eflin ($2.625), and a pair of lefties in Jose Alvarez ($2.95) and Adam Morgan ($1.575) who will each pitch out of the bullpen.

A number of star players around the big-leagues agreed on contract figures with their clubs and will avoid the arbitration process. Those include Mookie Betts, who set a new one-year arbitration-eligible record by agreeing to a $27 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Betts’ deal with the Bosox beats the $26 million agreed to just one year ago by the Colorado Rockies and superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado. However, within weeks of that agreement, Colorado and Arenado tore it up and agreed to an eight-year, $260 million extention.

The Phillies failed to come to an agreement on a 2020 contract with two players, presumptive closer Hector Neris and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Figures were exchanged with both, with Neris seeking $5.2 million and the club offering $4.25, while Realmuto sought $12.4 million with the Phillies offering an even $10 million salary.

As this news broke, the doom-and-gloom segment of the Phillies fan base took to the intrawebs to complain. That’s putting it mildly in many cases. Here are some representative samples of what was blasted across Twitter:

The Phillies won’t pay their Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winning BEST CATCHER IN BASEBALL $2.4M, but they’ll pay a man who’s lowest ERA the last 3 years was 4.85 $3.7M. I’m literally sick to my stomach right now.” (@zachary_east412)

Wow this is pathetic, a guy you want to sign long term, your going to go to arbitration over 2 million dollar difference but able to settle with Vince Velasquez???? This team is completely dis functional. Now I know why we haven’t heard from management, they can’t face the fans.” (@Oreillymike23)

In any business you lock up your best assets and ensure they’re taken care of. Wouldn’t blame JT for walking when he’s a UFA and escaping this sideshow of an organization.” (@romeobluesnoine)

My response to those folks would be simple. Calm down. Slow your roll. Take a chill pill. Don’t worry. Relax.

A year ago, the Phillies exchanged figures with pitcher Aaron Nola. Entering his age 26 season, Nola was coming off a Cy Young caliber campaign. Many in the fan base similarly wrung their hands and banged out many an exasperated comment on their keyboards.

And then on the day of their scheduled arbitration hearing, Nola and the Phillies announced a contract agreement taking their star hurler through 2022 with a club option for 2023. Crisis averted. Hand-wringing and keyboard-bashing for naught.

The same thing will happen now with Realmuto. The Phillies have already expressed publicly that they want to do a long-term deal with the player many regard as the top catcher in the sport. Realmuto has publicly expressed a desire to remain with the ball club for years to come. It will get done.

There are a few scenarios that could play out, with either the Arenado or Nola scenarios most likely. Either they go to an arbitration hearing, a one-year contract is awarded, and they continue to negotiate until reaching a new longer deal as with Arenado. Or they hash out a last-minute contract ala Nola.

The other scenario is that it doesn’t take that long. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has certainly been in communication with Realmuto’s representatives at BBI Sports Group. I would be willing to bet that a great deal of groundwork has already been laid on a long-term deal.

Scott Lauber at the Philadelphia Inquirer broke down the contract possibilities well in his piece today on the subject:

Realmuto is older than Joe Mauer and Buster Posey when they signed $184 million and $167 million extensions, respectively. And they were also former MVPs. But he compares favorably to St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who signed a five-year, $75 million extension at age 29 before the 2012 season. Allowing for eight years of inflation, Realmuto seems likely to want something in the neighborhood of five years and $100 million.

A five-year contract would take Realmuto through his age 33 season. Molina was an All-Star caliber catcher through age 35. Posey stayed at that level into his age 31 season,  Mauer into his age 30 campaign, before both switched largely to first base (as well as DH in Mauer’s case.)

The Phillies previously received solid, starting-caliber contributions from Carlos Ruiz through his age 35 season, though the last really strong result for “Chooch” came at age 33 in 2012.

For the Phillies to make a bet on Realmuto, who keeps himself in excellent physical condition and who has appeared in at least 125 games in each of his five full big-league seasons, through age 33 in 2024 does not seem like a very risky proposition.

That 2024 roster has $49 million total salary committed at this point, owed to Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. Look for Realmuto to become the third with a $20+ million deal that year in what would be the final guaranteed season of a long-term contract which he will reach with the club in the coming weeks.



Mickey Moniak beginning to look like a worthy top draft pick

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Moniak was the top overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft

During their recent half-decade plummet to the bottom of the National League standings, the Philadelphia Phillies found themselves picking at a high position in the annual MLB Amateur Draft on a regular basis.

The Phillies had such a horrendous season in 2015 that their 63-99 record proved to be the worst in all of Major League Baseball. That set the club up with the #1 overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft.
This was going to be far from a slam-dunk selection. Sure, the draft has yielded some true impact players with that first overall pick. Since the turn of the century, that top pick has produced stars in Joe MauerDavid PriceStephen StrasburgBryce HarperGerrit Cole, and  Carlos Correa.
However, there have been as many misses as hits. Players selected #1 overall since the year 2000 also include Bryan Bullington (2002), Delmon Young (2003), Matt Bush (2004), Mark Appel (2013), and Brady Aiken (2014). Some were injury casualties. Some simply never developed as hoped.
Others made an impact, but it would be hard to say that they justified a first overall draft selection: Luke Hochevar (2006) and Tim Beckham (2008) fall into this category.
Even Justin Upton, taken first overall in 2005, has to be considered an overall disappointment when considering he was the top draft pick. Dansby Swanson, the top selection in the 2015 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, is just emerging this year as an impact player after being traded to the Atlanta Braves.
In June of 2016, Matt Klentak was overseeing his first draft as the general manager of the Phillies. Johnny Almaraz was the club’s head of amateur scouting at the time. When MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stepped to the podium to announce the selection, he called the name of Mickey Moniak, an outfielder from La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California.
Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft,” said Almaraz at that time, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “He’s a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star.”
Per Salisbury, a rival talent evaluator also delivered a glowing appraisal of Moniak: “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.
Moniak knew that the pressure would be on him, and seemed ready to accept the responsibility. “I am honored by this and I’m excited to prove the Phillies right,” Moniak said in an interview with the MLB Network after the pick was announced.
After passing a physical exam with the team, Moniak inked a contract that paid him a $6.1 million signing bonus. Financially set, it was time to play baseball.
Almaraz doubled down on his assessment of Moniak’s abilities, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com: “I think you’ll have a Gold Glove center fielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team,” Almaraz said.
As an 18-year-old, Moniak was assigned to the Phillies rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League. He slashed .284/.340/.409 with 16 extra-base hits, 27 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 194 plate appearances across 46 games. It was a solid beginning to his professional career.
Moving up to Low-A Lakewood the following season, however, Moniak struggled mightily. He slashed just .236/.284/.341 in the summer of 2017 and frequently appeared to be over-matched, striking out in more than 20% of his plate appearances.
Still, the organization liked his maturity and believed he was up to another promotion for last season. It didn’t look that way early on, as things started out even more poorly with High-A Clearwater. Over his first 172 plate appearances across 43 games, Moniak slashed just .217/.233/.253, striking out in more than 25% of the time.
Then, something seemed to suddenly click. In his next four straight games, and five of his next six, Moniak produced a multiple-hit effort. He would slash .303/.346/.464 over his final 71 games and 293 plate appearances, with 30 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs. Moniak also cut down his strikeout rate to below the 20% mark over those final two and a half months.
With that performance his confidence grew, and Moniak moved up to Double-A Reading for this 2019 season. He turned just 21-years-old on May 13, and was playing so well that he was named to the Double-A All-Star team.
Unfortunately, a strained hamstring suffered while making a sliding catch in center field on June 30 has put Moniak on the minor league injured list. He will be in Richmond, Virginia for that Double-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night, but his ability to actually participate is questionable.
Moniak was slashing .266/.324/.437 with 32 extra-base hits, 42 runs scored, and nine stolen bases over 314 plate appearances in 75 games. In his last 13 games prior to the injury, he was hitting .318 with a .436 on-base percentage.
While Moniak had become a strikeout victim in 22% of his appearances this year, the now 6’2″, 185-pounder has quite obviously shown the ability to compete at the second-highest level of the minor leagues at more than three years younger than the average player age.
No, Mickey Moniak is still not demonstrating that he will be a difference-making impact player to the levels envisioned by the organization when he was drafted. But neither is he the bust that many were beginning to call him just one year ago.
I think it’s a lot of hard work in the offseason, but it has to do a lot with the past few years,” he said per Jackson Satz of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The seasons I’ve had, the good, the bad, learning from everything that’s happened to me throughout my professional career so far. Ultimately, that’s going to work for me to become the best player that I can be.
Now, mission one is to recover from the hamstring and get back into action. The Phillies have advanced him in a patient, yet consistent manner. One minor league level at a time. Moniak has continued to develop, gotten bigger and stronger, and it is now finally possible to envision him wearing a Phillies uniform at Citizens Bank Park.
Fans should expect to see him finish the year with Reading, and then move on to Triple-A Lehigh Valley when next season opens. He is likely to spend most of the 2020 season continuing his development. At that point it will be all about performance and production.
It may not yet be time for Phillies fans to get excited about Mickey Moniak. But it is beginning to become possible to see him as a contributor at the big-league level within the next two years. And it remains possible that he could still become the impact player that Almanzar and others believed him to be.
NOTE: Special thanks to Cheryl Purcell for her picture of Moniak at Reading accompanying this piece, and RIP to a truly good boy, Jax: https://jack-jax.com/

Minnesota Twins visit Citizens Bank Park for first time since 2010

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First-year manager Rocco Baldelli leads the Twins into Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies (4-1) return home following a brief but eventful two-game series split with the division rival Washington Nationals down at Nationals Park in our nation’s capital earlier this week.

The pair of emotional games in D.C., especially Tuesday night’s nationally televised tilt, were important on many fronts. One was that it allowed these two teams, who many feel will battle for the NL East Division crown, to size one another up.
Another was that it allowed new Phillies superstar Bryce Harper to get the drama of returning to the place where he played the first seven seasons of his big-league career out of the way with in the early days of the season.
With that drama behind them the club can begin to focus on the lengthy six-month regular season. The Phillies should also begin to settle into much more of a normal baseball routine now as well. After experiencing three off-days over the first week there will be just two more over the rest of the month of April.


The Phillies welcome in the Minnesota Twins (4-1) of the American League Central Division for the first interleague series of the 2019 campaign. The two teams have not met since a three-game set at Target Field in Minnesota back in June of 2016, and this is their first series against one another at Citizens Bank Park since June of 2010. The Twins hold a 10-8 edge in the all-time series between the clubs.
Minnesota has won three in a row entering this series to take an early lead in that AL Central Division race. Each of their last two victories have come thanks to late inning rallies in Kansas City.
Despite the retirement of popular hometown franchise icon Joe Mauer, the Twins were a popular choice among many preseason pundits as a surprise American League playoff contender.



  1. Max Kepler (L), CF
  2. Jorge Polanco (S), SS
  3. Eddie Rosario (L), LF
  4. C.J. Cron (R), 1B
  5. Marwin Gonzalez (S), 3B
  6. Jake Cave (L), RF
  7. Jonathan Schoop (R), 2B
  8. Jason Castro (L), C
  9. Jake Odorizzi (R), P
The Minnesota offensive attack has been led by 38-year-old, 15-year veteran Nelson Cruz. The regular Designated Hitter, Cruz leads the Twins in RBI with six and has their only home run to this point. He has not played the field yet in 2019.
25-year-old shorstop Jorge Polanco is tied with Cruz and former Phillies farm hand Willians Astudillo for the club lead in hits with six and his three extra-base hits are tied with Astudillo and center fielder Byron Buxton for the Twins lead in that category.

The Phillies and the rest of baseball will no longer have to deal with Joe Mauer. The 6x AL All-Star and 2009 AL MVP has retired after a 15-year big-league career. (Keith Allison)
A 27-year-old second-year service time rookie, Astudillo has seen action at three positions including two games behind the plate. He was originally signed by the Phillies out of his native Venezuela as a 17-year-old back in December 2008.
Astudillo rose only to High-A Clearwater by 2015 and became a minor league free agent following that season, signing with the Atlanta Braves. He then bounced from Atlanta to the Arizona Diamondbacks before catching on with the Twins in November 2017.
The perennially underachieving or injured Buxton, easily Minnesota’s most talented ball player, finds himself banged up yet again after running into a wall on Tuesday night in Kansas City. He is out for the opener of this series and is considered day-to-day with bruised ribs.
Also out of the lineup is slugging third baseman Miguel Sano, sidelined following a laceration to his right leg during spring training. He is not due back until some point in May.
The Twins bullpen has been solid thus far, surrendering just five earned runs and a dozen hits over their first 16.2 innings. Three of those runs came in one burst, when lefty Martin Perez gave up a three-run double to former Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana in the eighth inning last Sunday.
One of the key arms in that bullpen is another former Phillies prospect. Right-hander Trevor May was the fourth round pick of the Phillies in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft out of high school in Washington state. He was dealt to Minnesota in December 2012 along with pitcher Vance Worley in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere.
Willians Astudillo is projected to have a higher WAR/600 PA than Trevor Story, Anthony Rizzo, Lorenzo Cain, George Springer, and Matt Carpenter among others in 2020 (ZiPS)

See Beyond the Box Score’s other Tweets

This would appear to be a mismatch on paper, with the Phillies clearly possessing greater lineup firepower. The best chance for Minnesota would appear to be in keeping the games close into the later innings, allowing their bullpen to shut the Phillies down, and then picking up a big hit to steal a game or two. That was the winning formula in their previous series out in Kansas City.
Bryce Harper is slashing .500/.652/1.188, has homered in three straight games, and also has a pair of doubles and seven walks. Maikel Franco has slashed .400/.591/1.000 from the eight-hole with three homers, seven walks, and a team-leading seven RBI in the early going. Jean Segura is hitting .364 with a .391 OBP, two doubles and four RBI.


  • Nick Pivetta (0-0, 7.71 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
  • Pivetta was whacked around last weekend by the Atlanta Braves in his first 2019 outing and has never faced the Twins.
  • A 29-year-old right-hander, Odorizzi tied his career-high with 11 K’s while allowing just a solo home run in his first start this season against the Cleveland Indians.
  • Odorizzi has faced the Phillies just once previously. On July 22, 2015 while pitching with the Tampa Bay Rays he got the start at Citizens Bank Park, allowing two earned on five hits over five innings.


  • The Phillies have powered up for 39 runs over their first five games. That above lineup makes it a sixth consecutive game for manager Gabe Kapler filling out the exact same starting group. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? The lineup has produced at least eight runs in four of those five contests including a 10-run outburst on Opening Day.
  • Don’t be surprised if Cruz doesn’t get a start over this entire series, with Baldelli instead picking his spots to bring the big right-handed veteran bat off the bench at a key moment. He played just nine total games in right field over the prior two seasons with the Seattle Mariners and has not appeared in the field at all to this point in 2019.
  • Tonight is schedule as the Phillies “High School Series” event. High school students and their parents and teachers have been invited to go behind-the-scenes to find out what it’s like to work for a big-league team. They’ll hear from Phillies players and execs, take pictures, and then watch the game from the 200 level.


  • First pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with a 70% chance of rain over the first couple of hours
  • Location: Citizens Bank Park, South Philadelphia
  • TV: NBC10
  • Radio: SportsRadio WIP 94.1 FM, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Carlos Santana trade to the Twins may make most sense for Phillies

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Speculation on a Santana trade is increasing with the Twins a logical destination

Much speculation has developed in recent days that the Philadelphia Phillies could be looking to deal away first baseman Carlos Santana.

While I had previously pushed that possibility here at Phillies Nation, the notion gained real traction with a report earlier this week from MLB insider Ken Rosenthal that the Phillies were “shopping the hell” out of Santana.
It should be fairly obvious as to why the Phillies would be trying to move on from this player and contract. Spending $40 million over the next two years for a 33-34 year old whose best position is also best for your top current offensive player, Rhys Hoskins, seems to make little sense.
But with that in mind, are there any teams out there for whom Santana would make sense? Where might Phillies GM Matt Klentak look to find a match in such a trade?
Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors examined the situation in detail today and came up with a case for 14 different teams, nearly half of the clubs in Major League Baseball, to add Santana to their mix.
In breaking down Santana himself as a player, the limited number of teams who are probably actually looking to add such a player, the financial situations of the other ball clubs, and the other available options on the market, Dierkes made the following observation:

“…in reality there are enough cheaper alternatives on the market that the Phillies will have to kick in at least $10MM, or else take back a contract or attach a prospect.”

Less than a handful of teams would appear to actually make sense in such a deal. A genuine case can be made that a match could be found with the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins.

As Dierkes pointed out in his piece, Joe Mauer has retired and Logan Morrison is now a free agent. Those two combined to handle 140 games at the first base position in Minnesota in the 2018 season.
Minnesota has just $24.5 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, and none at all in 2020. Cots Contracts estimates the Twins payroll for next season to reach just past the $70 million mark, and then drop precipitously in the 2020 campaign.
With the team’s payroll having exceeded the $100 million mark in six of the last eight seasons, peaking at nearly $129 million last year, Minnesota can certainly afford the Santana contract. At the very least they could afford half of the deal, which would help the Phillies financial situation.
If I were Matt Klentak, I’m on the phone with Twins general manager Thad Levine right now looking to unload as much of that Santana contract as possible. I’m really not concerned with what I get back in return, the salary relief would be enough.
For the Phillies to get any team to take Santana they are likely going to have to eat some of that salary or include a half-decent prospect. I would prefer, and I believe the Phillies would as well, lean towards eating salary.
A trade of Santana to the Twins or some other team might result in a pitcher such as Ranger Suarez or Enyel De Los Santos going along with the first baseman, and the Phillies then getting major salary relief, taking back a lesser prospect in return.
With Hoskins back at first base and another $10-20 million available to spend in salaries over the next couple of years, the Phillies would be better positioned to move forward and fill real holes.
The Santana situation will continue to be just one of the major issues playing out down at the Phillies offices at Citizens Bank Park during what promises to be a fascinating and active off-season for the team.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Twins may be the best fit for Phillies in a Carlos Santana trade

Time for Matt Klentak to deal away Carlos Santana

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(Giving Santana $60 million in his low-30’s was a mistake from the start)

In December 2017, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak signed first baseman Carlos Santana as a free agent. The Phillies GM gave Santana a guaranteed three-year, $60 million deal that would take him from his age 32 through age 34 seasons.

The move was unnecessary right from the start. The Phillies already appeared set with Rhys Hoskins entering his age 25 season at the first base position.
Hoskins had belted 18 homers and drove in 48 runs with a .396 on-base percentage and .618 slugging percentage over just 50 games during his outstanding 2017 rookie campaign.
He is never going to be a Gold Glover anywhere he plays, and so first base is easily the best place for Hoskins. Over parts of four minor league seasons he appeared in a grand total of four games in left field, all just prior to his 2017 promotion.
Hoskins cannot become a free agent until after the 2023 season, so the Phillies should have been set at first base for at least the next half-dozen years.
Santana would produce a season in which he was second on the Phillies to Hoskins in both home runs (24) and RBI (86), which are roughly his career-average levels. However, he also hit for a pitiful .229 batting average.

Santana had a mediocre 2018, and there doesn’t appear to be an opening for him in 2019 with Phillies (Photo by Arturo Pardavila III)
Trying to squeeze some offense out of his lineup, Klentak reached for Santana. It didn’t work. The Phillies were one of baseball’s statistically worst offensive teams all year long.
And in making the move, Klentak also hurt the team defense by moving Hoskins out in left field. The Phillies overall defense was also one of baseball’s worst this past season.
First base was and remains the best position for Santana. Over eight big league seasons he had been a catcher and first baseman. The former was when he was a young player, the latter in recent years. He played just 26 games at third base, all when in his prime at age 28 in the 2014 season.
Down the stretch, with the season already lost thanks to a Phillies collapse over the final seven weeks, the team seemed to admit its mistake. Hoskins was returned to first base, playing there in 11 of the final 17 games and six of the last seven.
Meanwhile, Santana was moved across the infield to the hot corner. He appeared in 18 of the last 27 games there. Regular third baseman Maikel Franco had begun experiencing pain in his wrist, then suffered a shoulder injury while diving into a camera well during a September 11 doubleheader. Franco would play in just nine September games.
Through a late-August road trip prior to the onset of his physical troubles, Franco was arguably having a better season than Santana. He was hitting for a .276 average with 22 homers and 66 RBI in 119 games, a pace that would have seen him finish with roughly 30 homers and 90 RBI. He is certainly a better defensive third baseman.
The Phillies should again be set at both corners. Hoskins is apparently back as the regular first baseman. As our Tim Kelly reported here at Phillies Nation two weeks ago, the Phillies sound committed to Hoskins playing first base in 2019. Across the diamond, Franco is clearly the better option. He also cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Now as the Phillies begin preparations for 2019, it is time to recognize fully the Santana mistake, and turn the page from the player who will turn 33-years-old early next season. The worst thing that the club could do is enter spring training with any ambiguity involving two key young players.
There are two ways to handle the Santana situation. Either is fine with me. First and best, trade him to another team for something of value. You aren’t going to get much for an aging, limited player making $40 million over the next two years. But maybe if you take on most or all of that contract you can get something decent.
While this is plan 1-A in getting rid of Santana, an acceptable alternative would be simply letting him go to any team willing to take on all or most of the contract. That seems a long shot at best.
Perhaps the Minnesota Twins, where franchise icon Joe Mauer may have played his final game. Maybe the Seattle Mariners would feel Santana’s on-base ability would upgrade them enough to push through in the American League Wildcard picture.
The second option is the toughest pill to swallow. However, when you make a mistake the best thing to do is fix it and move on. If the Phillies cannot find a taker for Santana by December, I would release him and just eat the $40 million.
That’s easy for me to say, since it’s not my money. But it would also be the right thing to do. The Santana signing was a mistake from the get-go. Admit you made that mistake and move on. The Phillies will be better for it in the next two seasons and beyond.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies need to quickly correct the Carlos Santana mistake


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