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Bryce Harper Jersey

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It’s irresistible to wonder how Harper’s absence contributed to the Nationals’ World Series run and how he felt when they won Game 7. But perhaps his former team’s success liberates him from having to be a villain.
By Katie Baker Oct 31, 2019, 6:25pm EDT
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Bryce Harper always makes things too easy, which is why it’s so hard to look away from the guy. He is easy to love and easy to loathe and easy to watch play and extremely easy to project oneself upon. He is a modern athlete but a timeless human. As a kid, he already played baseball with the simple mastery of a big leaguer; as a big leaguer, he still sometimes carries himself with the earnest wretchedness of a teen. When he’s happy, he preens; when he’s not, he sulks; when he speaks, he misspeaks; and when he connects with the baseball in the right way, everything else—just for that instant—is forgotten, because did you see that? And then he does a Fortnite dance or whatever, as he did when he hit a double for the Philadelphia Phillies in his first return to his former team in Washington D.C. and reacted with a smirking wave, and then everything is remembered again.
From the contours of his hair to the sweep of his career, Harper is a walking broad brushstroke: the wannabe hero, the natural villain, the guy who left a team that immediately went on to win the freaking World Series. On the surface, he is not only a new example of the decades-old Ewing Theory—an archetypical framework once developed by Bill Simmons’s buddy Dave Cirilli that suggested teams can actually benefit from losing their top player—but perhaps even more of a manifestation of the idea than Patrick Ewing himself. (After all, even the Ewingless Knicks couldn’t take home a trophy.)

Related
The Nationals Spent Big and Won the World Series. Will Other Teams Follow Suit?
The Nationals’ World Series Win Was More Than a Decade in the Making. It’s Also a Window Into Their Future.
The Astros Should Remain Contenders With or Without Gerrit Cole—for Now

“I can’t wait to bring the title back to D.C.,” Harper accidentally said this spring during his introductory press conference in Philadelphia, where he had signed a $330 million free agent contract that lasts through 2032. This botched, cursed wish was granted: This season, Harper’s Phillies not only did not make the playoffs, they instead struggled so badly that coach Gabe Kapler, only in his second year, got the boot. Meanwhile, the Nationals not only did not lose in the first round of the postseason, as they historically always have, they instead won a title for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday night, in a Game 7, less than a year after losing their biggest-name player.

The tenets of the Ewing Theory are twofold: (1) “A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest,”—check!—“and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).” Check, and the parenthetical isn’t even needed! A little bit trickier, however, is (2): “That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency, or retirement)—and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.” That wasn’t quite the case with the Nationals.
From the contours of his hair to the sweep of his career, Harper is a walking broad brushstroke: the wannabe hero, the natural villain, the guy who left a team that immediately went on to win the freaking World Series. On the surface, he is not only a new example of the decades-old Ewing Theory—an archetypical framework once developed by Bill Simmons’s buddy Dave Cirilli that suggested teams can actually benefit from losing their top player—but perhaps even more of a manifestation of the idea than Patrick Ewing himself. (After all, even the Ewingless Knicks couldn’t take home a trophy.)

Related
The Nationals Spent Big and Won the World Series. Will Other Teams Follow Suit?
The Nationals’ World Series Win Was More Than a Decade in the Making. It’s Also a Window Into Their Future.
The Astros Should Remain Contenders With or Without Gerrit Cole—for Now

“I can’t wait to bring the title back to D.C.,” Harper accidentally said this spring during his introductory press conference in Philadelphia, where he had signed a $330 million free agent contract that lasts through 2032. This botched, cursed wish was granted: This season, Harper’s Phillies not only did not make the playoffs, they instead struggled so badly that coach Gabe Kapler, only in his second year, got the boot. Meanwhile, the Nationals not only did not lose in the first round of the postseason, as they historically always have, they instead won a title for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday night, in a Game 7, less than a year after losing their biggest-name player.

The tenets of the Ewing Theory are twofold: (1) “A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest,”—check!—“and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).” Check, and the parenthetical isn’t even needed! A little bit trickier, however, is (2): “That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency, or retirement)—and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.” That wasn’t quite the case with the Nationals.
Harper may have been the most well-known baseball player in Washington, but whether he was the best player on his team is a point of dispute; in the seven years he spent in Washington, he only led the team in WAR once, in 2015. (Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer each posted the top WAR twice during that span.) And going into this season, it wasn’t really a fringe belief to think that the Nationals would be fine without Harper; plenty of baseball analysts looked at the team’s mix of promising youth like Juan Soto and their new acquisitions like pitcher Patrick Corbin and felt the team had the weapons to move on quickly. Recently, Harper himself retroactively made this same point.

In mid-October, speaking with The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Harper pointed out that the Nationals’ situation was, in his words, “kind of the perfect storm.” Their outfield trio of Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton cost collectively less than $10 million this season. The financial flexibility they obtained by failing to keep Harper allowed them to go after better pitching. Reading about Harper going on in this way was a reminder that he is not just a baseball player; he’s also a baseball mind, and a baseball nerd, and a baseball fan, not unlike so many of the passionate people who were out there in their doctored Harper protest jerseys, booing their former favorite into oblivion, because he continued to make it so easy to do.
In his interview with Harper, Stark asked the question that pretty much everyone has been thinking since the Nationals turned their season around after a slow start and began their championship ascent: How does it feel to watch, in absentia, while his former team thrives? “Jealousy isn’t good,” Harper said (maybe too?) quickly, adding that both he and the Nationals had made their decisions, and that he had made the right one for his growing family, and that being in Philadelphia had “made me love the game of baseball more than I ever have.”

That last part stuck out a bit, though, because loving the game of baseball has never seemed like an area in which Harper has been deficient. If anything, it has felt like the opposite. For years, Harper’s lifelong obsession with the sport has sucked all the air out of the room, making him come across more like a persona than a person, as more of an avatar than an athlete. There has always been a genuine purity to Harper’s competitive spirit, but this makes him particularly susceptible to being considered a tortured soul. As a reporter (speaking of tortured souls) who wrote about Harper during spring training, I thought I’d be in for some dramatics or at least some bro-ing of clown questions. But he wasn’t playing a caricature; he was just being himself. The only clowning in sight was the laughter of Harper and his new Phillies teammates around the clubhouse breakfast table.

Related
Washington, D.C., Takes a Joyous Turn in the Winner’s Circle
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Stephen Strasburg May Have Just Pitched His Last Game As a National—and Become a Playoff Legend

Still, as a Mets fan (speaking of tortured souls), I not only understand the base and basic gut reaction to Harper; I have lived it, even as I objectively know better. It’s possible that the Ewing Theory has endured all these years not because it is about teams or the WAR of athletes who leave them, but because it is about the fans who remain: fans who are petty and loyal and overly invested, fans who are walking contradictions just like Harper himself, fans whose lives are filled with daily indignities and embarrassing jealousies and who seek escape by contemplating the social chaos of others. It’s an act of self-preservation to view Harper in Ewing Theory terms, to relish in the idea of addition by subtraction, to wonder how it must feel to be him, to guess that it must really suck. It turns out a World Series win by a divisional rival can be palatable, even delicious, when it happens right in the face of a longtime pesky adversary like him, a total villain like him.

Take off the NL East goggles, however, and Harper-as-villain doesn’t quite check out. At any rate, the more intriguing Ewing Theory candidate is Harper-as-self-aware. He knows Nationals fans are derisively duct-taping their old Harper jerseys. He hears the boos from Nats and Phillies fans alike. He remembers with clarity every at-bat in Washington that could have ended triumphantly and then didn’t. (He rattled off a list of them to Stark.) He’s not one of those athletes who insists, truthfully or not, that they don’t watch the playoffs if they’re not in it; he is proud to say that he scrutinized every second. He also has a competent new manager in Joe Girardi going into next season, and maybe even something that he’s never had before in his baseball career: a weight off his back.

I have no doubt Harper is being completely honest when he says he was thrilled for his former Nationals teammates throughout their championship run. I also have no doubt that he wishes he could be completely honest when he says that he didn’t envy them. What human wouldn’t? But there I go again, projecting my emotions onto Harper, pretending I have any idea what it feels like to be him, this enraging and engaging star professional athlete who continues to be so easy to judge and so impossible to resist.

J. T. Realmuto Jersey

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Extending J.T. Realmuto should be one of, if not the top priorities for the Phillies this offseason.

After being acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins that sent a highly talented phenom to Miami, J.T. Realmuto more than proved his worth in a Phillies uniform this season. He contributed heavily at the plate and behind the dish, en route to winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

Heading into the free agency period next offseason, Realmuto would be extremely sought after by any team that needs help with a backstop. It should be the Phillies utmost responsibility to keep him in the red and white pinstripes by locking him into a contract extension, because without J.T., they simply won’t be the same team.

Realmuto’s 2019 season statline reads as follows. 25HR, 83RBIs, .275 average. And not to be forgotten, Realmuto knocked 36 doubles and almost stole double-digit bags as a catcher. Granted, it doesn’t deviate from his previous season with the Marlins, but it proves Realmuto can be expected to be consistently productive at the plate.
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What sets Realmuto apart from other catchers in this league is the way he finds success in multiple phases of the game. With one of the quickest, if not the best, pop-times in the league that combines with a plus arm, Realmuto is feared by base-stealers for his prowess at getting the ball to second in record time.

At the plate Realmuto led all catchers with 148 hits, 36 doubles, and 83 RBI, while also hitting a career-high 25 home runs.

It proves he’s the total package, but what are the Phils going to need to do to keep a guy like J.T.? Well, as Puff Daddy would say, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

The Phils will have the advantage of Realmuto being under contract for one more season, but after said year he will demand top-dollar in the 2020 market.

This makes it all the more important to get a long-term deal done right now.

Considering his production and relatively young age of 28, J.T. could demand $100 million-plus in total contract value when offensive output is weighted. If his contract was placed in the 5-6 years range with no opt-outs, the Phillies could reasonably offer $20 million per year, and that might be a bargain given last his 2019 production.

Buster Posey has the largest guaranteed contract for a catcher with $159 million over eight years, and Yadier Molina’s deal averages $20 million, the highest average annual value at the position.
Next: Phillies: 5 options to play at third base in 2020

While he’ll age just like any other player, Realmuto’s bat could give him an everyday spot at another position such as first base or potentially someday as a designated hitter. For my money it’s not going to be if the Phillies extend Realmuto, but when they do it. The time is now, and it’s going to be exciting to see what Realmuto can make out of a long career in a Phillies uniform.

Deivy Grullon Jersey

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With already completing a trade to in this year’s MLB FanSided offseason simulation, it was time to head to the free agent market to find a way to improve the team.

For the last few years, the MLB Division at FanSided has put together an offseason simulation with the sites playing General Manager. I am in charge of the Pittsburgh Pirates offseason simulation this year. Each team has been able to submit trades to one another as well as trying to bid on free agents.

Yesterday, I discussed my trade with the Philadelphia Phillies (Phillies TBOH). The trade had the Pittsburgh Pirates sending outfielder Starling Marte and reliever Keone Kela to the Phillies. Coming back to the Bucs in the deal was a package of four prospects, including three who are close to MLB ready. The list included top pitching prospect Adonis Medina, outfielder Adam Haseley, catcher Deivy Grullon, and infield prospect Kendall Simmons.

While the trade made with the Phillies was supposed to help bring in talent that will help in a shorter time frame, the team still needs plenty of help. When looking at the free-agent market, I thought it was important to not just add some starting pitching depth, but some quality starting pitching depth. On top of that, it was important to find a quality left-hander for the rotation, something the team has been missing in the last few years.

So as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates I extended a reasonable, two-year contract offer to free-agent pitcher Wade Miley. Miley was getting a lot of one year offers and so the second year was a big part of getting a deal done. Financially speaking, the deal was worth $17.5 million or, $8.75 million per season. A two-year deal seemed like a perfect fit on the Pittsburgh Pirates end of things. This gives them a quality lefty to help compete and win games with a growing team. Also, he would be back for 2021 when the team projects to really compete.
LHP
Free Agent: Wade Miley
Starting Pitcher Career Numbers: 85-82, 4.23 ERA, 7.15 K/9, 49% Ground Ball Percentage

Wwith it being a two-year deal, it is a relatively safe deal to make. He would be easy to flip in a trade if he was not performing well enough, or if he was really performing well and a team was looking to get a starter with contractual control. Really, the contract made a lot of sense from all angles in terms of team success or value of a solid, left-handed starter.

Miley pitched for the Houston Astros last season and was with the Brewers in 2018. Over the last two years, Miley has had somewhat of a career resurgence. In 2018 he was really impressive in his 16 starts with the Brewers posting a 2.57 ERA. He followed it up with a 3.98 ERA with Houston this past season. While he regressed some, he still put up a strong season and if he repeated those results he would be worth $8.75 million per season.
Next: Trade with Phillies

With Miley slotting into the rotation, it gives some extra flexibility to potentially deal one of the starters. With the change over in management, it might be the time to just move on from Chris Archer. He is owed $9 million this upcoming year and has an option for 2021. Miley has been much better than Archer the last two seasons and would essentially replace him at a cheaper rate. To say the least, there has been a decent bit of interest for Archer by other FanSided GM’s so it seems likely that a deal will be struck.

Nick Pivetta Jersey

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Wins. ERA. WHIP. Strikeouts. Those are the only things you should care about for starting pitchers. That is, if you are playing fantasy baseball.

I looked at standard, advanced, batted ball, and plate discipline stats across every single pitcher in 2019. The stat for wins had no other stat that was more than 50% correlated with it (besides counting stats like games played). Not even K/9, ERA or WHIP.

Look at your K-BB% leaders from 2019 among qualifiers:

Gerrit Cole
Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Jacob DeGrom. (Do I need to continue?)
Shane Bieber
Lucas Giolito
Walker Buehler

K-BB% is heavily correlated to ERA (57%) and WHIP (70%). Swinging strike % is an excellent metric as well but is only 40% and 47% correlated to ERA and WHIP respectively.

Other metrics such as K/9, line drive %, HR/FB, and every single batted ball and plate discipline metric all have a correlation of under 50% with respect to ERA and WHIP.

K-BB% is king.

Now let’s get into the history portion of this tutorial…
Everything you need to get ready for the 2020 MLB season

Rankings, face-offs, sleepers; we got it all! Yes it’s early, but can you blame us?

Let’s just get an obvious point out of the way: strikeouts have risen dramatically in recent years. As a result, the number of pitchers with a K-BB% of at least 18% has risen. I’ve used 18% as my arbitrary line in the sand.

From 1990 through 2014 (25 years), there were only six pitchers with a K-BB% at least 18% but produced an ERA of 4.00 or above. We are talking single season and at least 80 IP. Let’s go through them:

1995 – Sid Fernandez (18.0% K-BB, 4.56 ERA). This was a split season between a terrible portion in Baltimore and a very good portion in Philadelphia. His struggles were with the long ball but could not play a full season the next year even though he continued some success over 11 starts, posting a 3.43 ERA and 11.0 K/9 in 1996. This is an example of a very talented pitcher who has tapped out his physical resources.

1996 – Francisco Cordova (18.1% K-BB%, 4.09 ERA). Cordova’s season was mainly as a reliever in 1996. He was converted into a starter the next year and played only five seasons in total. He followed this season up with two decent seasons but never possessed the strikeout ability as a starter.

2003 – Randy Johnson (20.0% K-BB%, 4.26 ERA). Again, the case of a post prime season that was riddled with injury. The Big Unit was so immortal he mustered up one more elite season after this, but this is an example of the K-BB% skill set being so strong during one’s prime that it remains elite even when other elements are faltering.

2006 – Jake Peavy (18.1% K-BB%, 4.09 ERA). This was a season sandwiched in between two elite years prior and two elite years afterward. His prime was short-lived, but in 2006 his swinging strike rate was still 12.2%. After 2008, the swinging strikes fell below 10% as he fizzled out.

2008 – Josh Beckett (19.0% K-BB%, 4.03 ERA). This was a Red Sox season which he was past his prime yet produced the best K-BB% of his career. The swinging strike % was down to 8.7% which was a steep decline from his Marlin days.

2009 – Ricky Nolasco (19.2% K-BB%, 5.06 ERA). This was his second full season coming off an incredible rookie campaign. Close your eyes, Snell owners. His swinging strike rate was 10.4% which was not far off from his career average. Open your eyes, Snell owners. The issue was that over the next three seasons his fastball velocity fell from 92.5 mph to 92.0 mph to 91.5 mph to 91.0 mph. He was pretty much finished after that and bounced around over the next few seasons, never posting any quality numbers. He was always a pitcher that relied heavily on breaking pitches and those get easier to hit when your fastball velocity declines. Close your eyes, Kershaw owners. It’s frightening when someone like Kershaw has a drastic decline in velocity and must resort to throwing more offspeed pitches. If you have recently become a fantasy baseball fan, google Felix Hernandez.

Over the next five years, between 2015 and 2019, it happened 40 times! Some players have done it multiple times.

Honorable mention goes to Tyler Glasnow in 2018, with a 4.27 ERA but just missing with a 17.7% K-BB%.

We have a couple of categories:

The sun setter (Big Unit, Beckett, Sid Fernandez)
The flash in the pan (Nolasco)
The blip in their prime (Peavy)
The legit breakout (Glasnow)
The reliever compiling the requisite innings (Cordova). We will ignore these for the most part.

Let’s take a closer look at the recent years.
2015

1. Raisel Iglesias (19.2% K-BB%, 4.15 ERA). Mostly a starter that year but turned into a lights out reliever. He’s a mix of a legit breakout and the reliever factor. Overall, this gives us confidence that the K-BB% is positively correlated to excellent fantasy production.

2. Michael Pineda (20.2% K-BB%, 4.37 ERA). We will come back to Pineda because he makes two more appearances on this list.
2016

3. Michael Pineda (20.4% K-BB%, 4.82 ERA). Wait for it. He’ll be back.

4. Chris Archer (19.5% K-BB%, 4.02 ERA). Wait for the K-BB% to improve and the ERA to get worse.

5. Vince Velasquez (19.4% K-BB%, 4.12 ERA). This was probably his best year to date, and for someone who strikes out so many batters, has not repeated a K-BB% over 18% due to the control issues. His fastball velocity has maintained itself and his secondary offerings have increased in velocity. However, his swinging strike rate has never been elite, and he has not attempted to alter his pitch mix over four seasons. More than likely he makes his way to the bullpen.

6. Aaron Nola (19.1% K-BB%, 4.78 ERA). We saw him break out over the next two seasons. Despite his regression in 2019, he is a legitimate breakout performer that indicates K-BB% should be focused on. It is worth noting that in 2019, he had a 17.5% K-BB%, a swinging strike rate better than his 2017 season, and his highest velocity to date. This was the signs of a legitimate breakout and I expect his 2020 to be closer to the near Cy Young 2018 season.

7. Robbie Ray (18.9% K-BB%, 4.90 ERA). This was a legitimate sign of a breakout which did occur in 2017. However, there was some regression in 2018 and 2019 as he reappears on the list in 2019 and almost made the list in 2018 with a 3.93 ERA. Stay tuned.
2017

8. Danny Salazar (23.0% K-BB%, 4.28 ERA). Salazar has not been able to stay healthy enough since 2017 to make an assessment. He had some relief appearances and still walked 10% of the batters. What he lacks in control, he makes up for in stuff. He only threw four innings in 2019 but his average fastball velocity was down about 10 mph, so he carries enormous injury risk and reliever risk going forward. He will be 30 years old on Opening Day, Cleveland has incredible depth at starting pitcher, and he has not been healthy for three years. He is not someone to target in standard leagues.

9. Chris Archer (22.2% K-BB%, 4.07 ERA). I told you his ERA would get worse as his K-BB% improved. The problem is the long ball. His swinging strike rate has maintained but he’s suffered a 1 mph dip in velocity in his awful 2019 season. I see him sun setting.

10. Jeff Samardzija (20.4% K-BB%, 4.42 ERA). This was the start of a serious decline, partly due to injury and partly due to skill set. He was one that never reached his full potential. Looking at the drastic decline in K%, stick a fork in him with respect to his 2020 outlook. He falls somewhere in between a flash in the pan and a sun setter.

11. Masahiro Tanaka (20.4% K-BB%, 4.74 ERA). He did have a decent rebound in 2018, which was a risky bet despite the nifty K-BB%. However, home runs are his nemesis, and by the end of 2019 his ability to strike batters out has diminished as a result of a decline in velocity and swinging strike rate. I am not certain that he has stopped trying to throw his sinker. However, according to Fangraphs, his sinker usage is nonexistent in favor of a four-seam fastball. Stick a fork in him for 2020, as he has been sun setting for years.

12. Kenta Maeda (19.0% K-BB%, 4.22 ERA). Maeda is going to pop up again. Stay tuned.

13. Jose Quintana (18.5% K-BB%, 4.15 ERA). Quintana outperformed his peripherals on several occasions and was a very durable pitcher that typically did not produce enough strikeouts to make this list. He was an above average pitcher for a span, but is sunsetting here. The K-BB% is really an anomaly for Quintana.

14. Trevor Bauer (18.2% K-BB%, 4.19 ERA). Legitimately broke out in 2018 as many expected, but regressed enough in 2019 so he could reappear on the list. Stay tuned.

15. Lance McCullers (18.0% K-BB%, 4.25 ERA). He was on his way to a breakout in 2018 with an increasing swinging strike rate at 13.5% with an excellent K/9 and a 3.86 ERA. He does carry some reliever risk, but he could be a legitimate breakout candidate again in 2020.
2018

16. Nick Pivetta (19.7% K-BB%, 4.77 ERA). A sleeper for many in 2019 that crashed and burned. The swinging strikes and velocity were only down ever so slightly, but he threw a lot more curveballs. Batters were making more contact out of the strike zone than before. Perhaps he can improve by throwing more fastballs, but he is a flash in pan as of now.

17. Shane Bieber (19.6% K-BB%, 4.55 ERA). A legitimate breakout.

18. Joey Lucchesi (18.6% K-BB%, 4.08 ERA). He produced a similar season in 2019 with less strikeouts per inning. He was on the cusp of this list in terms of K-BB% and ERA so I believe he can continue to be a league average pitcher. For fantasy purposes, he is replaceable in standard leagues.

19. Noe Ramirez (18.5% K-BB%, 4.54 ERA). Reliever.

20. Domingo German (18.5% K-BB%, 5.57 ERA). Legitimate breakout to start the year and regressed. Overall improved substantially. Stay tuned for 2019.

21. Andrew Heaney (18.0% K-BB%, 4.15 ERA). Making the list two years in a row is not necessarily good. Ask Chris Archer. However, stay tuned for my take on 2019.
2019

If you have read this far, you are probably wondering who the breakout candidates for are 2020…

22. Chris Sale (29.6% K-BB%, 4.40 ERA). We know Sale can be a super elite pitcher. We know that this is the highest K-BB% by far for any pitcher with an ERA over 4.00 since 1990. However, the only super elite pitcher in the last 30 years to have an ERA over 4.00 while posting a K-BB% over 18.0% is Randy Johnson at the age of 40. There was something going on health-wise. Chis Sale is no sure bet to return to elite form, however his upside is colossal.

23. Blake Snell (24.3% K-BB%, 4.29 ERA). Snell dealt with injuries, but his velocity was not an issue when he was on the mound. His swinging strike rate was 17.7%, which is preposterous, and he was generally unlucky. He is one year removed from a Cy Young and has the pedigree. This was a blip in his prime and I expect a return to elite form in 2020.

24. Matthew Boyd (23.9% K-BB%, 4.56 ERA). He has never had a good ERA because he doesn’t limit his walks and gives up more than his share of home runs. His velocity was significantly up in 2019 and a swinging strike rate of 14.0% was a career high. He was also limiting contact better than ever. Of all the pitchers I profiled, he was one of the only ones to increase the number of fastballs he threw. We will find out very soon if Boyd is a mainstay in the Tigers rotation. Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Joey Wentz should be up at some point in 2020. Moreover, Michael Fulmer should be back and could be excellent. Finally, Boyd’s splits were off the charts—3.87 ERA vs. 5.51 ERA in the first and second half respectively. Also, for everyone citing the division as an asset for pitchers like Bieber, Clevinger, Berrios, etc., look at this stat: Boyd vs. the AL Central—5.87 ERA; Boyd vs. everyone else—3.47 ERA. What gives? He gave up 39 homers. If he could have cut it down to a respectable 30, he would have had a maximum ERA of 4.13 in 2019. Boyd, despite the many warning signs, is a breakout candidate.

25. Robbie Ray (20.2% K-BB%, 4.34 ERA). He has a K-BB% in excess of 18% in each of the previous four seasons. His swinging strike rate is elite. His issue is walks. The only flaw in his arsenal is diminished velocity in 2019, but this should not correlate into the biggest weakness in his performance—control. He did replace the changeup with the curve in 2017, which helped. However, he has reverted to his sinker more with the reduced velocity. His best season was one in which he utilized his curveball and fastball combination the most. Over the last two seasons, he has mixed more of the sinker and slider in. Like Boyd, at 28 years old, he is at a crossroads. Fantasy owners are not paying an enormous price for his upside. I am a buyer, in the hopes that he had a two-year blip in his prime.

26. Matt Strahm (19.7% K-BB%, 4.71 ERA). This year’s Pivetta.

27. Carlos Carrasco (23.5% K-BB%, 5.29 ERA). At 33 years old entering 2020, there is a risk that he sun sets. His fastball usage and velocity were down, but his swinging strikes were still elite. He does have the health concerns and likely a different prioritization of baseball in his life. Ignoring the health scare as I hope he is fully recovered; I believe he is not ready to decline yet. However, comparing the risk to his price tag, I will stay clear of Carrasco this season.

28. David Price (21.0% K-BB%, 4.28 ERA). The injury risk is enough to tell me he’s been sun setting. Although his swinging strike rate rebounded from 2018, his velocity has declined too much. The variance in velocity from his fastball to changeup has declined from 12 mph to 8 mph. However, he is utilizing the changeup more than ever and basically ignored his curve. I believe 2019 was Price’s season like Randy Johnson had in 2003.

29. Drew Pomeranz (20.4% K-BB%, 4.85 ERA). Velocity was the best it has been in four years, and set a career high in swinging strike rate. However, did most of the damage as a reliever in Milwaukee. He’s a reliever.

30. Freddy Peralta (20.4% K-BB%, 5.29 ERA). Awful as a starter and throws almost 78% fastballs, as he is a two-pitch pitcher. Fastball velocity was up almost 3 mph, however, and the swinging strike rate was 13%. There is room in the rotation in Milwaukee as of now. He’s likely a reliever or an opener, but there is some upside here.

31. Wilmer Font (18.5% K-BB%, 4.48 ERA). Mainly a reliever.

32. German Marquez (19.4% K-BB%, 4.76 ERA). His velocity and swinging strikes have climbed and his he still 25 years old on Opening Day. His home-road splits are a legitimate concern which limit his upside, but this could be a blip in his prime. His upside is an SP2.

33. Domingo German (19.2% K-BB%, 4.03 ERA). German makes it back-to-back years on the breakout list even though he made significant strides in 2019. Some would say he had a mini breakout already, and even fell off a bit in the second half. His swinging strike rate is 14.9% and 13.0% the past two seasons which is incredible, but he did experience a dip in velocity last season. He could be set to improve once again in 2020.

34. Kenta Maeda (18.9% K-BB%, 4.04 ERA). Maeda barely makes the list but could be a mainstay due to his huge swing and miss ability and consistent velocity. He may have been misused in LA, as he has made 34 relief appearances over the last three seasons. It is interesting to note that he has performed better as a reliever. He does not really fit the mold of a breakout, rather he is a rich man’s Joey Lucchesi.

35. Trevor Bauer (18.8% K-BB%, 4.48 ERA). He had a better K-BB% and K% than his 2017 season in which everyone tabbed him as a breakout candidate. His swinging strike rate is 12.2% which is still excellent, and he has shown no signs of diminished velocity. His peripherals appear superior than 2017, yet he’s taken steps back in all measures from his ridiculous 2018 season. I foresee a “re-breakout” in 2020, but not to the extent of 2019. I’ll bank on a 3.40 ERA and about 225 strikeouts. Good for a Round 3-4 pick you can get in rounds 6-7.

36. Noah Syndergaard (18.4% K-BB%, 4.28 ERA). His velocity and swing and miss are still awesome despite minor drops. Health is the only thing that scares me, but he should bounce back nicely and provide some draft day value, albeit small. He’s still too established to be considered a breakout.

37. Kevin Gausman (18.2% K-BB%, 5.72 ERA). He’s got a 14.8% swinging strike rate. This is good. His velocity is down from his time with the Orioles, but he still throws 94 mph and has pedigree at 28 years old. On the other hand, he fared much better as a relief pitcher. His role depends on where he signs, and it is difficult to rely on him for a breakout given all the opportunity he has been afforded.

38. Max Fried (18.0% K-BB%, 4.02 ERA). Fried posted a very good swinging strike and showed that he can miss bats. He surely has upside to post an ERA under 4.00 but cannot see him as a truly elite arm.

39. Michael Pineda (18.7% K-BB%, 4.01 ERA). Pineda squeaked his way onto this list for the third time with an ERA of 4.01. He’s shown big potential in terms of strikeout ability. He’s dealt with injuries which erased his 2018 season and he’s been on the list in both 2015 and 2016. He just missed in 2017 with a 17.3% K-BB%. In 2016, he had his worst ERA at 4.82 but also struck out 207 in 175 2⁄3 innings (the only season besides his rookie year that he had over 9.0 K/9). He has also shown a decline in fastball usage throughout his career. Despite this, in 2019, he had the second highest swinging strike mark of his career and he went back to more fastballs while using his changeup more frequently at the expense of the slider. However, we saw a dip in velocity that was quite substantial when compared to when he last pitched in 2017.

40. Andrew Heaney (21.5% K-BB%, 4.91 ERA). Heaney makes the list in consecutive years battling more injuries and a higher ERA. He posted a career high 14.1% swinging strike rate and his velocity was better than ever. I am calling for a legitimate breakout from Heaney in 2020.
Honorable Mention

41. Dinelson Lamet (24.0% K-BB%, 4.07 ERA). Just missing the innings by 7 IP to qualify for the list. Coming off Tommy John Surgery, his fastball velocity was 96.1 mph in 2019 vs. 95.1 mph in 2017. Swinging strikes were up to 14.0% from 11.8%. Love everything about this. He is a legitimate breakout candidate next season.

42. Griffin Canning (17.2% K-BB%, 4.58 ERA). Just missed the K-BB% by 0.8% to qualify for the list. Canning consistently posted more than a strikeout per inning and is a legit breakout candidate next season.
Bonus Material

Minor league pitchers with a K-BB% over 18% in 2019 that could make a big MLB impact in 2020 (min 40 IP in Double-A/Triple-A):

Tarik Skubal – 37.2%
Brendan McKay – 30.2%
Jose Urquidy – 26.5%
Cristian Javier – 25.9%
Daulton Jefferies – 24.8%
Tyler Ivey – 24.5%
Zach Plesac – 23.5%
Lewis Thorpe – 23.3%
Alex Faedo – 23.0%
Justin Dunn – 21.5%
Matt Manning – 20.9%
Deivi Garcia – 20.8%
Mitch Keller – 20.2%
Nate Pearson – 19.2%
Cory Abbott – 19.1%
Sixto Sanchez – 19.0%
Ian Anderson – 18.6%
Aaron Civale – 18.5%
Dustin May – 18.1%
Casey Mize – 18.0%

In summation, my Top 10 Breakout Candidates for 2020:

Dinelson Lamet
Andrew Heaney
Dustin May
Lance McCullers
Spencer Howard (not mentioned yet, however 34.4% K-BB% in High-A and 23.8% K-BB% in Double-A in limited innings with a minuscule ERA)
Robbie Ray (re-breakout)
Domingo German (further breakout)
Matthew Boyd (further breakout)
Max Fried
Griffin Canning

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Since 2012, the Phillies have non-tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players; Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez could soon join that list.

As Thanksgiving has come and gone, the next important date of the Major League Baseball offseason is just days away: Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline for clubs to decide whether to “non-tender” their arbitration-eligible players.

When an arbitration-eligible player becomes “non-tendered,” their previous club is declining to offer them a contract for the upcoming season; therefore, the player is immediately made a free agent.

Players are up for non-tender consideration if they are on the 40-man roster and have fewer than six years of Major League service time. Reasons players could be no-tendered include that the club believes a salary increase they would receive in arbitration exceeds their on-field value, and/or that the club simply wants to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies have nine players eligible for arbitration this offseason: LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Zach Eflin, 3B Maikel Franco, 2B Cesar Hernandez, C Andrew Knapp, LHP Adam Morgan, RHP Hector Neris, C J.T. Realmuto, and RHP Vince Velasquez.

While Eflin and Realmuto are surely locks to be tendered contracts by Monday’s deadline, the same cannot be said for Franco and Hernandez.

The Phillies have been rumored to be trying to trade either player, and have already explored options for their replacements in the infield, such as Didi Gregorius, Mike Moustakas, and Josh Donaldson, among others.

Click through to see the three most recent players, since 2012, that the Phillies have decided to non-tender and the avoid arbitration process with.

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Tyler Kepner, a journalist from The New York Times, came to Rutgers to talk about the release of his new book, “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches” on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Kepner has been a national baseball reporter for The New York Times since 2010. He began his career at the publication in 2000, cultivating his passion for sports journalism by covering the New York Mets for two seasons. From 2002 to 2009 he covered the New York Yankees.

Kepner highlighted his opinion on the art and craft of baseball pitches, modern-day baseball journalism and how it has changed.

He said that the whole premise behind his book was centered not around players themselves, but rather the analyzation of the 10 baseball pitches.

“Why don’t we expand … instead of making those 2 or 3 pitchers the characters, we make the pitches themselves the characters and then I can dive into what made them so great and what made those guys great? If you made this sinker a character, how would we talk about it? Who were the kind of people to learn that pitch, where did they learn it and how did they apply it?” Kepner said.

He went on: “If you threw these 10 particular pitches, well I was going to try to find you, even if you weren’t a hall of fame kind of guy, as long as you were in that era. Those were the guys I wanted to get and it was great, it was like a scavenger hunt.”

In the lecture, Kepner also highlighted how baseball journalism has changed over time, to mirror what he experienced. Kepner references the movie “Almost Famous,” written and directed by Cameron Crowe, as a way to resemble what is happening with modern-day baseball journalists.

“It’s about a kid who is 15 years old and is really eager to get into the writing business into the rock and roll world and he sees the whole other side of it, but he is still so wide-eyed and genuine about his love of the industry for music,” he said. “They tell him that music isn’t the same anymore, it’s the death rattle, and he said ‘I’m here for that.’ I feel like that maybe baseball doesn’t have the exact same hold on America as it did in the 50s or the 80s. I’m not sure if that’s true but that’s what a lot of people are thinking, but I don’t really care because right now is a really fun time for a baseball writer and I want to be there for it.”

Kepner fell in love with baseball from a young age, particularly pitching because of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton, his favorite baseball pitcher at the time. Kepner made an entire career from baseball without playing.

“You know I can’t throw lefty, can’t throw in the 90s with a killer slider but I can try. I became a pitcher in middle school, high school, little leagues and that’s as far as I went … at Vanderbilt (University) I realized what I wanted to do: I wanted to immerse myself in baseball through journalism,” Kepner said.

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The Braves have their new battery mate to pair with Tyler Flowers.

Travis d’Arnaud, a recently well-traveled 30-year-old catcher, joined the team on a two-year, $16 million deal Sunday afternoon. D’Arnaud is familiar with the National League East after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Mets.

“We’ve been pretty clear about needing someone to add to the roster and we had Travis near the top,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We like the fit in the clubhouse, we like the bat as well. … Travis is a guy we identified and tried to get a deal done with.”

In signing d’Arnaud, the Braves addressed one of their self-identified greatest needs. Catcher Brian McCann had retired, opening up a void on the field and in the clubhouse. The team saw d’Arnaud as an optimal successor. He’ll share time with Flowers, who the Braves re-signed to a one-year, $4 million deal earlier this month.

Anthopoulos knew d’Arnaud from their days in the Toronto organization, when d’Arnaud was a top prospect acquired in the Roy Halladay deal and later traded away in the move that brought Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Canada. D’Arnaud also has past experience with Braves catching coach Sal Fasano, who coached him when he was Eastern League MVP in 2011.

While Anthopoulos noted injuries have derailed d’Arnaud’s upside, he’s still highly regarded across baseball. Anthopoulos praised d’Arnaud’s power to all fields, especially right center, and his ability to handle a staff.

“We did a lot of work on his prep, game planning, the receiving side is obviously important, too,” Anthopoulos said. “We think Travis has been high up there in the past, we’ll think we’ll continue to get better and get back to where he was.”

D’Arnaud bounced back in 2019 after undergoing right elbow surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament the season prior. He appeared in 103 games (92 of which came with Tampa Bay), hitting .251 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs for the Mets, Dodgers and Rays. D’Arnaud is a career .246 hitter with 63 home runs in 500 career games.

Last season was the third time d’Arnaud had exceeded 100 games played since he debuted in 2013. Anthopoulos noted d’Arnaud recovered his form with the Rays, when he hit .263 and knocked all of his 16 homers.

Tampa Bay tried to re-sign d’Arnaud, according to the Tampa Bay Times, but the Braves swooped in and continued their offseason spending. The team has already signed relievers Will Smith, Darren O’Day and Chris Martin in addition to d’Arnaud, bucking the trend of slow-developing winters that have plagued baseball in recent offseasons.

“We just worry about ourselves,” Anthopoulos said. “Last winter, (Josh) Donaldson and (Brian) McCann came together early. It worked out that way and then there was a gap. It’s hard to pinpoint when deals will come together. … We’re focused solely on ourselves and the needs we have to address.”

D’Arnaud’s brother, Chase, was a member of the Braves in 2016 and ’17. The Braves now have 40 players on the club’s 40-man roster.

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When Pat Burrell first became teammates with Gabe Kapler in 2009 on the Tampa Bay Rays, he had the same visual first impression of Kapler that any person would have.

“My first reaction was the physique,” Burrell said to NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday after Kapler’s introductory press conference as the Giants’ next manager. “I was like, ‘Gabe, how are you maintaining this?’”

From his playing days to even now as a coach, there are numerous stories of Kapler’s work ethic in the weight room and strict diet. He certainly doesn’t look like your average baseball player, and that’s especially true now as a 44-year-old manager.

Kapler and Burrell each were 32 years old for the majority of the 2009 season. San Francisco’s newest skipper is just about 15 months older than Burrell, who spent the final year-and-a-half of his career as an outfielder on the Giants. The two both were past their primes in Tampa Bay and spent an abundance of time together talking about baseball and life in general.

Even then, Burrell knew Kapler had a career ahead of himself in the game, likely as a coach.

“Man, what a teammate,” Burrell said. “Always there for you, would do anything for you. I mean, insanely positive.”

Burrell says Kapler, as a former 57th-round draft pick — yes, you read that correctly — always was prepared both mentally and physically. He expects his former teammate to bring an edge to the Giants and a “grinder” attitude after three straight losing seasons.

But Kapler is walking a fine line with a roster that has both aging veterans and young players on the rise as the Giants continue an extensive rebuild.

“He’s coming into a tough situation,” Burrell said. “How do you balance that dynamic? One thing I do know that Gabe is gonna bring is a tremendous amount of energy and passion, and hopefully that can be something they can feed off of. He will be at the top step every night, and he will be positive.”

As the Giants turn to young players like infielder Mauricio Dubon, breakout rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski and pitchers Logan Webb and Tyler Beede, core veterans still are expected to play major roles on this team. Buster Posey was in attendance for Kapler’s press conference, and the new manager admitted he will lean on the three-time World Series champion.

Whether the manager is a Bochy or a Kapler, every player will have to step up in 2020 for the Giants, regardless of status. This will be a brand-new clubhouse with fresh energy, and it all starts with the man tasked to replace a legend.

There will be passion. Now, will there be wins?

[RELATED: Kapler admits he wasn't popular hire as next Giants manager]

“Out of Farhan [Zaidi's] words, I think he talked about the last couple years there has been some low energy. And [Kapler's] gonna give you that,” Burrell said. “The only question I have is, does that translate to winning? Maybe. We’ll see.

“But for the fans and people that watch baseball, it’s really fun to watch players having fun out there, and I haven’t seen that the last couple years.”

Kapler’s passion and energy didn’t produce enough wins in two years as the Phillies’ manager. He, along with Zaidi and the rest of the Giants, certainly hope the second time is the charm.

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The 10 candidates for the Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot have been released. If any are elected by the 16-member committee that receive 75 percent (12 votes) of the votes, they will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame next July along with any BBWAA candidates who make it. The announcement for this vote will be revealed — as is customary — during the Winter Meetings in San Diego on Dec. 8. Last year, Harold Baines and Lee Smith made the Hall via the “Today’s Game” vote.

The Modern Era and Today’s Game Committee are two of the four eras committees that replaced the old Veterans Committee. The four committees meet every few years to vote on players and other baseball personnel from specific eras.

Modern Era (1970-87): Meets in 2019.
Golden Days (1950-69): Meets next in 2020.
Early Baseball (1887-1949): Meets next in 2020.
Today’s Game (1988 to present): Meets next in 2021.

Instead of just listing the 10 Modern Era candidates, let’s have a little fun and rank them.
10. Steve Garvey

Garvey’s best chance should’ve been via the BBWAA back in his day because it’s an old school case. He’s got the .294 batting average and that sterling defensive reputation. He had 2,599 career hits along with 1,308 RBI. A newer-school approach, though, shows just a .329 career on-base percentage and advanced defensive metrics rate him out as a negative at first base due to a lack of range. As such, he sits 51st among first baseman all time via the JAWS system, which is a good system but nothing is the so-called “be-all, end-all.” Garvey shouldn’t get in, but Baines probably shouldn’t have either.
9. Tommy John

Here’s the toughest guy to rank, because it’s hard to know how much weight to put on him being the guinea pig — and now the namesake — of a procedure that saves so many careers these days. He had a very good career on the field that was marked mostly by longevity. In 26 seasons, he was only an All-Star four times and only got Cy Young votes four times. He did rack up 288 wins, but he only averaged a 13-11 record per every 162 team games. His career ERA was 3.34, good for a 111 ERA+. He’s 85th in JAWS among starting pitchers, sitting around guys like Tim Hudson, Orel Hershisher, Frank Tanana and Mark Buehrle.

But there’s a Tommy John surgery now. As noted, this was real tough.
8. Dave Parker

The Cobra certainly had a Hall of Fame nickname. He also racked up 2,712 career hits and nearly got to 1,500 RBI (1,493). The .290 average is good, but the .339 on-base percentage leaves something to be desired and the 121 OPS+ from a corner outfielder isn’t huge. He did win an MVP, two batting titles and two rings, but his top statistical similars are Luis Gonzalez and Torii Hunter. He’s 39th in JAWS, sitting around the likes of J.D. Drew and Darryl Strawberry. Very good, but not Hall-worthy.
7. Don Mattingly

Unfortunately, injuries derailed what was a Hall of Fame career in the making with Donnie Baseball. From 1982-89, Mattingly hit .323/.368/.521 (144 OPS+) while averaging 43 doubles, 27 homers and 115 RBI through his six-year prime. He won an MVP and nine Gold Gloves.

The injuries prevented him from racking up the counting stats later in his career and he only lasted parts of 14 seasons. He only played at least 140 games in eight seasons. He ended with 2,153 hits, 442 doubles, 222 homers, 1,099 RBI and 1,007 runs. That’s light at first and sure enough, using JAWS Mattingly is 39th, well below the established standard of a Hall of Fame first baseman.
6. Dale Murphy

Similar to Mattingly, Murphy was on a Hall of Fame track and then the case couldn’t be completed. Through his age-31 season, Murphy had two MVPs and was hitting .279/.362/.500 (132 OPS+) with 162-game averages of 34 homers, 100 RBI, 100 runs and 16 steals. His stop statistical similar through age 31 was Reggie Jackson. His top two if we look at his whole career? Andruw Jones and Joe Carter. His late-career demise kept Murphy below 400 homers (398), 1,200 runs (1,197) and 1,300 RBI (1,266). His 2,111 hits aren’t overly Hall-like. He’s 25th in JAWS at center field, behind players like Fred Lynn, Johnny Damon and Chet Lemon.
5. Dwight Evans

“Dewey” played an era too early. For as much as he walked, he was running an excellent .388 on-base percentage through his nine-year prime compared to a .281 average. His average season through those years was .281/.388/.498 (139 OPS+) with 30 doubles, four triples, 26 homers, 93 RBI, 98 runs and 4.4 WAR. Between all the walks and his 2,446 hits he ranks 57th in career times on base.

Using the JAWS system, Evans is slightly below the Hall of Fame standard, though he’s in front of Hall of Famers like Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero and he crushes Baines.
4. Thurman Munson

Tragically, Munson’s career ended when he died in a plane crash at age 32. In 11 MLB seasons, Munson hit .292/.346/.410 (116 OPS+) while winning an MVP, collecting two World Series rings (while hitting .357 with 22 RBI in 30 career playoff games) and being an excellent defensive catcher. Should that overwrite that his counting stats? He finished with 1,558 hits, 229 doubles, 113 homers, 701 RBI and 696 runs. He almost got to the Hall standard in JAWS, sitting just behind the average HOF catcher.
3. Ted Simmons

In parts of 21 seasons, Simmons carried a career .285/.348/.437 slash, which is good for a 118 OPS+ and he was a catcher. Through his nine-year prime, he hit .300/.369/.471 (132 OPS+) while walking nearly 200 more times than he struck out and carrying positive defensive value at the most demanding position. Through age-31, Simmons’ most statistical similar player was Ivan Rodriguez. Through his career, the most similar offensive profiles are Miguel Tejada, Alan Trammell, Joe Torre, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin and Yogi Berra. Simmons sits as the 10th-best catcher all time via WAR.
2. Lou Whitaker

Via WAR, the only second basemen ahead of Whitaker are Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew and Charlie Gehringer. That’s it. Sweet Lou is ahead of the likes of Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio and several other Hall of Famers. His most statistical similar hitters? Ryno, Alan Trammell and Alomar. He’s got 2,369 career hits while walking more than he struck out and had 420 doubles and 1,386 runs with a career .276/.363/.426 (117 OPS+) slash while playing an up-the-middle defensive position.
1. Marvin Miller

It’s a travesty he isn’t in yet and you can’t help but wonder how much an impact owners have had on Miller still not being in. Miller was the head of the MLBPA from 1966-82, helped get free agency and arbitration put in place and the average player salary was 10 times higher when he retired compared to when he took over. He’s one of the biggest off-field players in baseball history.

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J.T. Realmuto will have another bargaining chip to bring to contract negotiations as an offseason that could lead to him being baseball’s highest-paid catcher began Sunday night with Realmuto becoming the first Phillies player since 2012 to win a Gold Glove award.

Realmuto won his first Gold Glove, besting San Diego’s Austin Hedges and St. Louis’ Yadier Molina to be named the National League’s top defensive catcher. He joins Bob Boone and Mike Lieberthal as the only Phillies catchers to win a Gold Glove. Bryce Harper (right field) and Aaron Nola (pitcher) did not win after being finalists at their positions. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers beat out Harper while Zack Greinke, who started the season with Arizona before being traded to the American League’s Astros, topped Nola.
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Realmuto, according to metrics compiled by FanGraphs, was the most valuable defensive player this season at any position. He threw out a career-high 37 would-be base stealers, 15 more than any catcher and the most in franchise history since Darren Daulton threw out 40 in 1993. He had the fastest pop-time — the time it takes for a catcher to get the ball to second base — in the majors, and Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the fourth-best pitch framer among all catchers.

The Phillies parted with Sixto Sanchez, then their top pitching prospect, to land Realmuto before the season. And now they’ll have to pay him. Realmuto, who turns 29 during spring training, is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season. General manager Matt Klentak said during the final month of the season that one of the team’s offseason goals was to “address his contract situation.” It will come down to finding the right number.
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“I’m certainly not opposed to staying here,” Realmuto said after the season’s final game. “I love playing here in Philadelphia. I love the crowd. I love the fans. I love my team. So we’ll see how that goes in the offseason.”

Molina’s $20 million-per-year deal in St. Louis gives him the highest average-annual value for a catcher, while Buster Posey’s $167 million contract over nine years makes him the richest. Realmuto should be able to clear Molina’s $20 million, but surpassing Posey seems difficult. Posey was three years younger than Realmuto when he signed his deal. A possible deal could be about $110 million for five years.
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Realmuto started 130 games last season, which was the most by a Phillies catcher in 20 years, and led all catchers this season in innings caught, catching 44 more innings than the next-closest catcher. But that heavy usage may have come at a cost as Realmuto missed the final week of the season with a knee injury that required surgery. Realmuto’s production, insistence to play every day, and the struggles of backup Andrew Knapp made it difficult to find Realmuto rest in 2019. The Phillies will likely try to upgrade their second catcher this winter and new manager Joe Girardi plans to find Realmuto additional rest in 2020.

“I want him healthy in October,” Girardi said. “I think you can overuse any player. Days off are important for all players. You look at the player and some guys with the day off can play the next day, some guys are really good if you give them a day off before a day off and they get two days off and they’re really good. Now, some guys aren’t good at … two days in a row off. Those are things we need to evaluate and need to judge.

“But 120 games, that’s catching three out of every four games. That’s a lot of games. Maybe you have a guy who is uncanny and can do a little bit more, but I want the guy healthy in October because that’s where the prize is.”
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And if Realmuto needs an additional bargaining chip, he could receive one on Thursday when the Silver Slugger Awards are announced. Realmuto, who won the National League’s Silver Slugger for catchers last season, joined Johnny Bench and Jorge Posada as the only catchers in history with 90 runs, 35 doubles, and 25 homers in a season. Realmuto ranked first among NL catchers in RBIs (83), runs scored (92), ranked second in batting average (.275), weighted-runs created (85), slugging percentage (.493), and homers (25).

The Phillies have not won a Silver Slugger since Chase Utley in 2009. Realmuto could end that drought. If so, it would just give him some more momentum in an offseason that seems destined to end with him cashing in.