On Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired all star catcher JT Realmuto in exchange for top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, minor league lefthander Will Stewart and international slot money.
For me, this trade screams the name of BRYCE HARPER. Sure, acquiring JT Realmuto by itself is huge news as the Phillies get arguably the best catcher in baseball. Also, the team did not gut the entire farm system to do so. However; do not loose sight of the fact that Harper and Realmuto are close friends.
In fact, Bryce had been hounding Washington Nationals brass all season last year to trade for the all-star catcher. Joe Fisaro, a Florida Marlins team reporter was on WIP radio on Wednesday evening (during the Joe Gigilio Show) and made the following statement..."Bryce Harper loves J.T. Realmuto...If the Phillies get Realmuto, it could enhance their chance at getting Harper."
Will getting J.T. Realmuto guarantee that Bryce Harper comes to Philly? No one knows for sure. But what we do know is that the Phillies are not messing around and that they feel that they can contend NOW. Trading for Realmuto sends a message to the rest of the league that they are serious about winning and that they are continually trying to improve as an organization.
Let us review the trade. What are the Phillies getting in J.T. Realmuto? According to Phillies GM Matt Klentak, the team is getting the best catcher in major league baseball.
Last season, the all-star catcher had a career season batting .277AVG/74RBI/74RUNS/21HR/.340OBP/.484SLG/.825OPS.
Yes the average was a little down folks but this is a catcher we are talking about. His .825OPS is an elite number and compares with the big boys. And most importantly, these numbers were put up in a stadium that is traditionally one of the hardest parks to hit in. Moreover, he did this in one of the worst offensive lineups in baseball with the Marlins.
Home/Road Splits-Career Home/Road Splits: Home-.244AVG/.292OBP/.384SLG/.279BABIP. Road-.310AVG/.358OBP/.494SLG/.356BABIP.
Realmuto is an offensive star and an even better road warrior but do not loose sight of his defense. He is also one of the best catchers in baseball, that calls an excellent game behind the plate to go along with an above average arm. He is also a leader in the clubhouse on and off the field. Make no bones about it, J.T. is a significant upgrade over the catcher that the Phillies gave up in Jorge Alfaro.
The players going the other way in the deal are in fact Jorge Alfaro (C), Sixto Sanchez (RHP), and Will Stewart (LHP).
Jorge Alfaro was the Phillies starting catcher. He was once considered one of their top 100 prospects. Last season, Alfaro put up mediocre offensive numbers at best in 2018-.262AVG/37RBI/35RUNS/10HR/.324OBP/.407SLG/.731OPS.
Alfaro shined behind the plate as far as throwing out runners but was dead last in defensive WAR. He lead the league in passed balls and was not good at blocking the plate.
The key linchpin in the deal was Sixto Sanchez. Sanchez was the Phillies top prospect but he has been injury prone the last few seasons. He has the nickname of Pedro Martinez 2.0. His ceiling is extremely high, but the Phillies were willing to part with the unknown in exchange for a player of Realmuto's caliber. Will Stewart is not as well known as Sanchez but has been compared to a young Chris Sale in some circles.
The trade seems to be good for both teams but it grades out as a slam dunk for the Phillies as they are significantly better with the addition of Realmuto. Yes, its a pretty steep price to pay by giving up the teams top prospect. However; in the scheme of things this is the prelude to something bigger.
This sends a message to Bryce Harper that the Phillies are for real and are doing everything in their power to improve the roster. Sure, the money was always going to be the number one factor. However; now the Phillies have added one of Harper's close friends to the roster and you can rest assure that they will use this as a bargaining chip. I am sure that Realmuto will be on the phone telling Bryce to DO THE DEAL. In fact, Harper may have even told the Phillies to go get J.T.
No one knows how this is going to play out exactly. But a message has been sent TODAY. A message to the league. A message to other free agents. A message to Bryce. A message has been sent that the Phillies have arrived and that they are not finished making moves. Now go spend that "STUPID MONEY" that you promised guys. A city is anxiously waiting for the next domino to fall.
PLEASE LET IT BE HARPER...