Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Philadelphia Phillies star J.T. Realmuto was placed on the COVID-19-related injury list Thursday, but manager Joe Girardi said the catcher hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus.
“All his tests are fine. You can’t let someone with a stomachache and a small fever walk around your clubhouse today,” Girardi told reporters. “In a normal year, you wouldn’t worry about it, but you can’t do that now.”
Realmuto, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, re-signed with the Phillies in the offseason, getting a record-setting deal for a catcher. His $23.1 million annual salary is the biggest-ever for the position.
The size of the investment ($115.5 million over five years) spoke to how well Realmuto has performed over the last few seasons.
He finished with 11 home runs, 32 RBI and an .840 OPS in 47 games with Philadelphia. His 1.7 WAR was tied for second among catchers, per FanGraphs. While the Phillies finished with a losing record, they got exactly what they expected from Realmuto behind the plate and in the batter’s box.
Realmuto’s 2021 season didn’t get off to a great start as he suffered a broken right thumb in February, which put his status for Opening Day in doubt. He was ultimately in the lineup for a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on April 1. He’s posted a .938 OPS through 33 games this season.
One downside to having one of MLB’s best catchers is you don’t necessarily need to have a great backup plan. That becomes a problem when said star catcher goes on the shelf.
Andrew Knapp will have to take over until Realmuto is back and healthy. Knapp entered 2021 having slugged .350 in his MLB career, so Philadelphia’s offense will have a clear void in the middle of the order. Rafael Marchan will take over backup duties.