The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a trade for Miami Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto in exchange for three players, including top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez and big-league catcher Jorge Alfaro, the team announced Thursday. Miami will also receive lefty Will Stewart and an undisclosed sum of international bonus money.
Realmuto, who's been the subject of trade rumors for the entire offseason, is coming off an excellent 2018 season in Miami:
Going into his age-28 campaign, Realmuto boasts a career OPS+ of 111. As well, he's a solid defender. Over at Baseball Prospectus, the advanced catching metrics grade Realmuto as having been a major defensive asset in 2017 and a bit above average in 2018. He's also proved himself capable of working more than 1,000 defensive innings in three of his four full seasons in the bigs.
The Phillies are betting that the offensive strides Realmuto made last season are mostly sustainable. On that front, Realmuto in 2018 increased his fly-ball percentage modestly while also making significant strides with his rate of hard-hit balls -- both good signs moving forward. He'll make $5.9 million for the upcoming season and isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, though the Phillies and Realmuto are expected to discuss a long-term contract extension at some point.
Realmuto turns 28 in March. He's under club control for two more seasons. He was not open to extension talks with Miami, but two sources said those talks are expected to happen with Phillies.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) February 7, 2019
- LF Andrew McCutchen
- SS Jean Segura
- C J.T. Realmuto
- 1B Rhys Hoskins
- CF Odubel Herrera
- RF Nick Williams
- 3B Maikel Franco
- Pitcher's spot
- 2B Cesar Hernandez
The Phillies are, of course, continuing to pursue Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, either of whom would make that lineup one of the game's best and deepest. Franco has been on trade block for two years it seems, and he could be moved should the club sign Machado. Harper would presumably push Williams into a bench role.
On the Marlins' side of things, the most notable get is the right-hander Sanchez, 20, who was recently ranked the 35th-best prospect in baseball by ESPN thanks in part to "what might be the easiest 100 mph fastball in pro baseball." Sanchez has displayed impressive control for such a young age, issuing fewer than two walks per nine innings for his career, and has a progressing slider. He has the upside of a frontline starter and immediately becomes the top prospect in the Marlins' system.
Alfaro is a 25-year-old catcher who figures to become Miami's post-Realmuto regular behind the plate. Across parts of three big-league seasons he's put up an OPS+ of 99 in 508 plate appearances. Alfaro, whom the Phillies acquired from the Rangers as part of the Cole Hamels trade in 2015, was a consensus top-100 prospect for several years in the minors thanks to his power potential and one of the strongest throwing arms in the game.
Stewart, 21, is a former 20th-round pick who broke out with a 2.06 ERA and more than four strikeouts for every walk in 113 2/3 innings in Single-A last season. He's a lefty with good velocity and a quality changeup, and may be only two years away from helping the Marlins. Miami can also use the international bonus money to secure an additional prospect(s), possibly prized Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez.
The Phillies are trying to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011 and Realmuto represents a massive improvement behind the plate. They had to give up their top prospect in Sanchez, but they kept MLB-ready pitching options like Ranger Suarez and Enyel De Los Santos, and of course they remain in the mix for Harper and Machado.
Few teams in baseball have been as active this offseason as the Phillies, and to date, Realmuto is their biggest addition. Now they figure to put the full court press on Harper and Machado.