The best catcher in Major League Baseball has finally escaped from the pit of misery.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins struck a deal on Thursday that will send star catcher J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia in return for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and international bonus slot.
Realmuto hit a solid .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI over 125 games in 2018 and played solid defensively. Realmuto is under contractual control through 2020 and in a time where good catchers are at a premium, a solid hitting catcher who fields well is almost impossible to find. Realmuto moving from Marlins Park to Citizens Bank Park will likely enhance his offensive numbers, especially since his OPS was nearly 100 points higher on the road in 2018 (.870 as opposed to .773).
Philadelphia is one of the possible destinations for superstar free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and it has been speculated that the signing of Realmuto was in order to prompt one of the superstars to sign in Philly, but this idea was shut down by Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak.
“This is about us acquiring the best catcher in baseball,” Klentak said, “and we’re really excited about that.”
Klentak was not only ecstatic that he had just pulled off a deal for the best catcher in baseball but also praised Realmuto’s work ethic and leadership skills, saying, “We have heard outstanding things about J.T. and his work ethic and his makeup and his leadership and the type of teammate he is.”
Sixto Sanchez is certainly the centerpiece of the deal for Miami. Sanchez missed most of last season with an elbow injury that shut him down in early June after just eight starts but now, Sanchez enters the 2019 season as the undisputed, uncontested, and unquestionable No. 1 prospect on the Phillies and is ranked as the No. 13 prospect overall by Baseball America, No. 23 by Baseball Prospectus and No. 27 by MLB Pipeline.
“In Sanchez, we saw a front-of-the-rotation starter,” Hill said. “Electric stuff — a pitcher we think can develop and lead a championship rotation.”
Also going to the Marlins is Jorge Alfaro, a power-hitting catcher with a rifle for an arm. Will Stewart will also pack his bags for Miami. Stewert excelled in Class-A baseball in 2018, going 8-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 20 starts.
The Marlins have made it clear as day that they are at the beginning of a long rebuild. Miami started by trading every asset with value whatever last offseason (Stanton, Yelich, Gordon, Ozuna, etc.) with the exception of Realmuto who requested a trade from Miami in December of 2017. Realmuto will now finally get his wish and the Marlins now have some more prospects to continue their rebuild.
“We did not have to trade J.T.,” Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “But our goal is to build a long-term sustainable championship organization.”
The Phillies, on the other hand, have now added Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and numerous other players brought on to overthrow the Atlanta Braves. Realmuto is now free from Miami and will now play for a Major League Baseball team that actually intends on competing within the next five years.