A division rival could have significantly changed the outlook of the Philadelphia Phillies future roster with one blockbuster deal back in 2014.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins discussed a trade that would have sent Jake Arrieta to the Marlins in the summer of 2014 – but it ultimately did not happen, and the reason is likely because the Fish would not include J.T. Realmuto in the package.
In 2014, Arrieta was in the midst of a breakout when he had a 2.11 ERA prior to the trade deadline. To that point, he had struggled throughout his major league career but appeared to be tapping into his potential for the first time.
Realmuto was not a top-100 prospect in baseball at the time, per MLB Pipeline. But Rosenthal mentions that Miami had faith that he would develop into a star-level player, and that he was the player the Cubs most desired in an Arrieta trade.
Had such a trade come to fruition, it is hard to say how it would have impacted the Phillies down the road. There is a good chance Arrieta still would have become a free-agent after the 2017 season, but maybe the market for him would have been different depending on how he performed in Miami
The Cubs became competitive in the 2015 season and stayed that way through the end of the decade, making a Realmuto trade to the Phillies in 2018 unlikely.
Realmuto would have had some competition – catcher Willson Contreras made his debut in 2016 and instantly made an impact – which would have been interesting to watch play out. Perhaps one of them would have been traded elsewhere sooner than 2018, which is probably before the Phillies would have jumped to make the deal they ultimately did for Realmuto.
Looking back, it’s clear that the Cubs were better off not trading Arrieta when they had the opportunity. Arrieta had a historic 2015 season, riding a 1.77 ERA to the National League Cy Young Award. In 2016, Arrieta was a key cog in the Cubs team that defeated Cleveland in the World Series and snapped a 108-year championship dry spell.
But, the trade did not happen, and the Phillies ultimately ended up bringing in both Arrieta and Realmuto. Arrieta was a disappointment, pitching to a 4.36 ERA during the course of his three-year, $75 million contract. That said, Realmuto has become the best catcher in the game during his time as a Phillie, and is set to wear red pinstripes for the next five seasons.
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