The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a deal to acquire All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins Thursday, shipping catcher Jorge Alfaro, No. 1 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez and pitching prospect Will Stewart, along with international bonus money, to South Beach.
The Phillies are receiving arguably the game’s best catcher in Realmuto, who will turn 28 next month. But did they give up too much?
Alfaro started last season as the Phillies starting catcher, but his incredibly high strikeout rate – 36.6 percent – and trouble with passed balls (he had 10 of them) led to the contending Phillies acquiring All-Star Wilson Ramos before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. With Ramos having signed with the New York Mets, the 25-year-old Alfaro looked like he would again be the head man behind the plate. Alfaro has a big arm and raw power, but he still projects as a high-ceiling, low-floor type. Realmuto is a sure thing.
Sanchez has been the Phillies top prospect for almost two years now. While the 20-year-old right-hander throws incredibly hard, he also has advanced control for his age. He has drawn comps to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, mostly because he possesses a similar stature and power arm, but it’s almost unfair to hold a prospect to the expectations of being on par with one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Sanchez also dealt with a right elbow injury in 2018, one that limited him to just 46.2 total innings. Sanchez also hasn’t competed about advanced-A ball, so there’s still a lot of unknown with how we will develop. He still could be an ace, and the Phillies would be forced to face him for the next decade, but Realmuto moves the needle on the Phillies being contenders immediately.
With two prime years of Realmuto guaranteed – and the possibility of signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado looming – trading Sanchez may be worth it. The Chicago Cubs traded their top prospect to the New York Yankees in July of 2016 for two months of Aroldis Chapman. That prospect, Gleyber Torres, will likely be a fixture in the Yankees lineup for the next decade, but moving him allowed the Cubs to snap a 108-year World Series drought. The Boston Red Sox traded their top prospect – Yoan Moncada – and then some to the Chicago White Sox in December of 2016, and are currently the defending World Series Champions. Sometimes moving your top prospects proves to be worth it.
The Phillies are also sending LHP Will Stewart to Miami. He went 8-1 with a 2.06 ERA with Single-A Lakewood in 2018. He was not considered a top 30 prospect, but that likely would have changed when the lists were updated next month.
Overall, this feels like a fair deal for both sides. The Phillies kept their top three hitting prospects (Alec Bohm, Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak) and two top pitching prospects, Adonis Medina and JoJo Romero. The Phillies also held on to promising young shortstop Luis Garcia. The Marlins, though, did get a hefty return, headlined by Sanchez, a potential future ace. This could be the rare case of a major trade that proves to work out well for both sides.
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