Phillies appear headed to arbitration hearings with Realmuto and Neris

Phillies and J.T. Realmuto exchange arbitration figures.
The Phillies were unable to work out a deal with catcher J.T. Realmuto before Friday's arbitration deadline, but the opportunity remains over the coming weeks that the two sides will agree on a long-term contract.

Realmuto filed at $12.4 million while sources close to the Philadelphia Baseball Review say the Phillies filed at $10 million. Now, the two sides are scheduled for an arbitration hearing next month.

Again, this does not preclude the two sides from hammering out a long-term deal that'll keep Realmuto in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.

The Phillies dealt with a similar situation last year with Aaron Nola before the two sides agreed to a four-year deal the night before their scheduled arbitration hearing.

Along with Realmuto, the Phillies also exchanged figures with reliever Hector Neris. Neris filed for 5.2$ million while the Phillies filed for $4.3 million, according to a source close to the Philadelphia Baseball Review.

Per MLBTradeRumors.com, Realmuto was projected to earn $10.3 million via arbitration, while Neris was slotted at $4.7 million.

The Phillies reached one-year deals with Vince Velasquez ($3.6 million), Adam Morgan ($1.56 million), Zach Eflin ($2.63 million), and Jose Alvarez ($3 million).

If Realmuto and Neris reach an arbitration hearing, then a panel of three judges will decide on the player's salary for 2020 by selecting either the figure the player filed at or the team. The Phillies last were involved in an arbitration hearing in 2008 with Ryan Howard and lost, but then the slugger signed a three-year extension in 2009.

It's no secret that the Phillies want to lock Realmuto up with a long-term deal. The concern, however, appears to be with the potential ramifications of payroll exceeding $208 million and the luxury tax penalty. For now, the Phillies payroll is hovering around $202 million - if the club were to sign Realmuto to a long-term deal right now it would almost inevitably push the club over the threshold. The club would then be taxed 20% for every dollar spent above $208 million.

Managing partner John Middleton said in October the organization would be interested in going beyond the luxury tax only if it meant a legitimate chance to win a World Series.

“I’m not going to go over the luxury tax so we have a better chance to be the second Wild Card team,” Middleton said following last season. “That’s not going to happen. I think you go over the luxury tax when you’re fighting for the World Series. If you have to sign Cliff Lee, and that puts you over the tax, you do it. If you have to trade for Roy Halladay, and sign him to an extension and that puts you over the tax, you do it. But you don’t do it for a little gain.”

In this instance, the Phillies could be content with whatever happens via arbitration involving Realmuto as the club could wait until Spring Training to offer a long-term deal. Handling things this way means the long-term figures would not count against the luxury tax threshold this year, but rather for next year.

As for Realmuto, he's made it clear he's interested in staying in Philadelphia.

"I really like it here, I'm certainly open to staying in Philadelphia," he said back in September.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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