It all started when Ken Rosenthal let the Twitterverse know that the Phillies had recently checked in on Marlins star catcher J. T. Realmuto. The fanbase started to bubble with thoughts of their first All-Star catcher since Carlos Ruiz in 2012.
By the afternoon, another national baseball writer chimed in. Jon Heyman tweeted that “Phillies have made progress in Realmuto talks”. If any Phillies fan wasn’t buzzing before, they were now. Could the Phillies be actually close to landing the biggest trade of the offseason. Had the Fish actually lowered their asking price?
We all went to bed with sweet dreams of solid hitting at CBP.
The next day brought possibly disappointing news. Marlins reporter Joe Frisaro published a story stating that, through a source, Phillies top prospect Sixto Sanchez was a “must” in any Realmuto deal. Adding to this, Scott Lauber of the Inquirer tweeted that it would have to be Alfaro AND Sixto in a deal.
On one hand…
J.T. Realmuto might be the best catcher in the game right now, at least top 3. He was a 4.3 WAR player last year and hit the most homers in his career to date (21 in 125 games). He slashed .277/.340/.484 in 2018. He’s not as high a strikeout risk as Jorge Alfaro is (104K in 125 games compared to 138K in 108 games).
Realmuto has also had so much more success on the road than in Marlins Park. In 260 games in Miami, Realmuto slashed a disappointing .245/.294/.384. In 280 games elsewhere, he hit .309/.356/.492. Imagine him moving from the endless void of Marlins Park to the friendly confines of CBP. It’s salivating, isn’t it?
On the other…
Jorge Alfaro clearly has some talent. In his first full season, he posted a 1.2 WAR while slashing .262/.324/.407. He’s shown interesting things behind the plate. From what we saw with Aaron Nola last year, we know he has the ability to call a good game. His cannon of an arm has already become a piece of Philadelphia legend.
He is still growing and could become something truly special if he can tone down the swing and misses.
Sixto Sanchez might be the most interesting pitching prospect the Phillies have ever had. He regularly throws 99mph with good control. He has a plus changeup and curve. He can reach back to hit 102 on the radar. Oh and he’s only 20 years old.
MLB.com lists him as their 21 overall prospect in baseball and 5th best right-handed pitcher. If he can stay healthy, he might just become a dominant ace the Phillies need to add to Aaron Nola.
That’s why the Phillies can’t part with both in a deal for Realmuto. This is not to say that Sixto can’t be dealt for the right player. It’s just that Realmuto isn’t that right player.
If he were to be dealt it would need to be for the Phillies’ greatest current need, starting pitching. Corey Kluber would be someone who’d be worth the parting of such a high-level prospect. A true ace that is under control for a couple of years through team options.
If the Phillies can work around including Sixto in a deal for Realmuto, a trade would be a no brainer. He’s one of the best at his position and worth acquiring, just not for Sixto.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports