Spring 2021 Magazine

21 MLB players to watch in 2021: Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto

Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.

Money talks, and this offseason the Philadelphia Phillies said it loud and clear how much they value star catcher J.T. Realmuto. In January, Realmuto signed a five-year, $115.5 million contract — the richest ever for a catcher.

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Arguably the best all-around catcher in baseball, Realmuto is ready to make good on that commitment from the Phillies.

“The Phillies and their entire organization — from the owner all the way down to the fans — they’ve embraced me from Day 1,” he told MLB Network in February. “My family, they’ve welcomed us with open arms. We always love playing for the Phillies, so we’re extremely excited and extremely grateful to be back.”

Realmuto, a two-time All-Star, finished the shortened 2020 season with 11 home runs, tied for the most among catchers with Salvador Perez, and was near the top of just about every offensive category. And he’ll be relied upon in 2021 to play a big role in helping the Phillies win in a tough National League East division.

Realmuto, who has “Following Jesus Christ and chasing the dream!” in his Twitter bio, said he’s never been shy about wanting to stay in Philadelphia. He’s also never been shy about sharing his faith.

Last season, he appeared on the “Faith on the Field Show” and talked about how his faith was guiding him through the season and the upcoming contract talks.

“My wife (Alexis) and I constantly have this conversation that it’s not really worth it for us to think about or stress about or worry about because He’s already got a plan,” Realmuto said.

He added, “Especially in today’s day, being able to fall back on that relationship with Christ, if that’s the center of your life, all these problems that you’re going through, all these worries that you have, always seem a lot smaller. You can always have faith in Him that He’ll be there with you to get you through that.”

Realmuto shared on the podcast that he grew up going to church and knew of Jesus, but it wasn’t until years later that he understood what it meant to fully commit his life to Christ.

“I wasn’t necessarily on fire for Him,” Realmuto said on the podcast. “I wasn’t living for Him until I met [my wife].”

He and his wife got married in 2016 and now have two young daughters. As a family, it’s important for them to begin their day playing worship music and singing along. He told MLB Network that his off days are mostly spent with his family, although he will sneak some time on the golf course, too.

“They travel with me quite a bit, so if they’re there, I do as much as I can with them on those off days and just kind of relax and get my mind away from the game,” he said.

The Phillies finished 2020 with a 28-32 record and missed the playoffs, so having Realmuto back in the fold was crucial in their bid to return to the postseason. Philadelphia last made the playoffs in 2011.

But win or lose, Realmuto said on the podcast that his identity and value come more from his faith in Jesus than any success on the field.

“It’s extremely important to me in life to know that the first thing I am … before I’m a father, before I’m a baseball player, the No. 1 thing I am is a follower of Christ,” Realmuto said.

The Phillies open the 2021 season on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves.

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