Phillies acquire All-Star catcher
The Phillies have acquired All-Star catcher JT Realmuto, sending catcher Jorge Alfaro, top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, left-handed pitching prospect Will Stewart and international slot money to Miami, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who reported the finalized deal. With an already stellar off-season, the addition of Realmuto makes the Phillies’ offer to Bryce Harper more appealing now than ever.
Realmuto is a stud
Let’s focus on just how important Realmuto will be for the Phillies. First, the Phillies will have him under contract for two more seasons and will surely value him enough to extend his contract past 2020. At only 27, Realmuto has improved every single season since his arrival in the majors in 2014. Since being the Marlins’ everyday catcher in 2015, he has averaged 132 games played, improved his home run and RBI totals in each season (with career highs of 21 and 74 in 2018) and earned his first All-Star nod and Silver Slugger award last season.
Many regard Realmuto as being a top-five catcher in all of Major League Baseball, as the newest Phillie is coming into his own, both offensively and behind the plate.
In 2017, Realmuto ranked third among all catchers in the majors with an OPS of .783 and finished second in runs scored with 68. In addition, Realmuto was second in total hits with 148 in 141 games played. Last season, Realmuto finished tops in average, hits and OPS, with a .826 clip. He also finished last season third in the majors among catchers in RBIs and fourth in home runs, while only appearing in 125 games with the Marlins.
These stats are even more impressive due to the fact that Marlins Park is not hitter-friendly. In addition, Realmuto was without protection in the Marlins’ lineup, playing without key offensive weapons Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yellich, and Marcell Ozuna for most of last season.
A multi-dimensional player
As for his defense, Realmuto is no slouch. In 2018. he finished tied for sixth among all catchers by throwing out 21 base-runners. Ironically, Jorge Alfaro, revered highly for his great arm behind the plate, also had 21 last season. Alfaro also had four more errors in 82 fewer innings played than Realmuto had last season. By no means is the All-Star catcher a Gold Glove winner, but his progressions defensively are encouraging.
Much like his offensive growth, Realmuto has the ability to come into his own as a catcher. Much more than just an offensive-minded player, many reports have praised the former Marlin for his skills in working with pitchers and calling games, all of which add to the legitimacy of this important move.
Losing Sixto: a necessary evil
The loss of the Phillies’ top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez was a necessary evil to acquire Realmuto. That decision could also potentially land Bryce Harper. At just 20 years old, Sanchez has electric stuff and posted a 2.51 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP last season in 46.2 innings in Clearwater. The only legitimate concern would certainly be his elbow and collarbone problems he suffered last season that allowed him to start only eight games. Overall, Sanchez is an impressive talent with terrific velocity that will certainly be the Marlins’ best and most promising prospect.
What this means going forward
If Phillies fans had to choose, it’s a no-brainer. By having Realmuto, this gives the Phillies the best roster to sign Harper. Granted, it sure is tough to say goodbye to Sanchez, but on the larger scale, it was the right move. Realmuto could be the final piece to the puzzle of finally signing Harper and turning them into a contender.
As of right now, the Phillies’ lineup is highly talented. It features Hoskins, Segura, McCutchen, and Herrera. Add Realmuto into the mix and their lineup consists of five current, former and future All-Stars. Factor in Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery, Nick Williams, and Cesar Hernandez, and this team is suddenly deep.
The possibility of landing Harper now seems more realistic than ever. If Harper signs, that would put the finishing touches on one of the Phillies’ best winters in recent memory.