Scouting The J.T. Realmuto Trade
The Phillies swung their second blockbuster deal of the offseason on Thursday when they acquired all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins for catcher Jorge Alfaro and a pair of prospects headlined by electric righthander Sixto Sanchez and backed up by upside lefty Will Stewart. The Marlins also acquired international slot money in the deal.
The move continues Philadelphia’s quest to upgrade as much as possible at some of the most important positions on the diamond, with Jean Segura replacing J.P. Crawford at shortstop and Realmuto swapping in for Alfaro. The Phillies are, of course, still among the teams rumored to be vying for the services of the two prime-age superstars on the free-agent market in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
J.T. Realmuto, C
Simply put, Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball. He was a 4.3 WAR player in 2018, as calculated by Baseball Reference, and immediately gives the Phillies one of the game’s most valuable players in the game, in his prime, at a premium position. He’s also under team control for the next two seasons. Realmuto also represents a second big splash for the Phillies this offseason, joining the trade for All-Star shortstop Jean Segura. Those two acquisitions should bolster Philadelphia’s lineup, which also includes slugger Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen.
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Sixto Sanchez, RHP
Despite pitching sparingly this past season, Sanchez still made enough of an impression to rank as the second-best righthanded pitching prospect in baseball, as well as the No. 4 prospect in the high Class A Florida State League. He accomplished this on the strength of a 70-grade fastball that has regularly touched triple-digits as well as a slider and changeup that each project as plus or better. Multiple scouts who saw Sanchez in 2018 ranked him as the best pitcher they saw all season. Right elbow inflammation limited him to just 47 innings over eight starts with Clearwater.
Jorge Alfaro, C
This trade marks the second time Alfaro has been a centerpiece in a megadeal. He was one of the key pieces in the deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers in 2015, and now he heads to Miami in arguably the highest profile deal of the offseason. Alfaro got his first long-term look in the big leagues as part of a tandem with Andrew Knapp. He brings an intriguing mix of power and athleticism but still needs refinement behind the plate, as shown by his league-worst 10 passed balls in just 98 games. Although it came with a lot of swing-and-miss (his 23.8 percent swinging strike rate was the worst in baseball of any player with 350 or more plate appearances), his average exit velocity of 91.6 mph was the same as superstar free agent Manny Machado and a full three mph better than MLB average in 2018.
Will Stewart, LHP
On a Lakewood staff full of intriguing arms, Stewart flew somewhat under the radar for the first part of the season. Once scouts started seeing him, however, they were quickly interested in his combination of a low-90s fastball, changeup and slider. The changeup is his go-to pitch, and he adds and subtracts its velocity depending on if he needs a called strike or a chase pitch. He’s also shown willingness to be aggressive with the pitch, throwing it as many times as needed and to both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. His slider, which ranks as below-average but is the newest pitch in his arsenal, could be average with continued reps. He’s adept at reading hitters’ swings and quickly learning how he can use his stuff to exploit their weaknesses.