Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Phillies and catcher J.T. Realmuto appear to have mutual interest on a contract extension. Such discussions may begin in earnest after the season, as Realmuto heads into his third and final year of arbitration eligibility.
Realmuto, 28, has unarguably been the Phillies’ best player. FanGraphs credits him with 5.7 Wins Above Replacement, which is best on the Phillies and best among catchers. It’s also 11th-best in baseball and fifth-best in the National League. At the plate, Realmuto has hit .277/.329/.498 with 25 home runs, 82 RBI, and 89 runs scored in 520 plate appearances. He’s been even better defensively, throwing out 48 percent of runners attempting to steal, the best mark in baseball.
The Phillies made four notable acquisitions last offseason, signing Bryce Harper and David Robertson while trading for Jean Segura and Realmuto. They got Realmuto from the Marlins in exchange for catcher Jorge Alfaro, top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, and minor league pitcher Will Stewart.
Realmuto is earning $5.9 million this season. Lauber suggests his salary could come close to doubling in arbitration going into 2020. An extension would buy out that year plus likely three or four years of free agency.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.