PHILADELPHIA (94 WIP) -- The sleeping giant is awakening.
On Thursday afternoon, the Phillies acquired J.T. Realmuto, the best catcher in baseball, from the Miami Marlins in exchange for top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, minor league left-hander Will Stewart and international slot money.
Here are four takeaways from the trade:
This could be the key for Bryce Harper to come to Philadelphia
This shouldn’t be the most important part in the acquisition of J.T Realmuto, but it is. Realmuto and Bryce Harper are really close, and Harper had basically been begging the Nationals to acquire Realmuto for the past year. He loves the guy.
"Bryce Harper loves J.T. Realmuto. ... If the Phillies get Realmuto, it could enhance their chance at getting Harper," Marlins reporter Joe Frisaro told Joe Giglio on Wednesday's 94WIP Evening Show Hot Stove segment.
He’s been wanting to play with Realmuto for over a year now, and now he has his chance. Harper may have told the Phillies, 'Go get my guy and I’ll come play with him.'
The Phillies were out of the Realmuto sweepstakes, only to jump back in. Feels like a Bryce bat signal. If giving up a prospect of Sixto Sanchez’s caliber ultimately nets you Bryce Harper and J.T Realmuto, this is a slam dunk win for the Phillies.
Realmuto rakes on the road
Realmuto already was the best catcher in baseball while playing 81 of his games at Marlins Park, one of the worst places to hit at in baseball.
Look at what happened to Christian Yelich when he left Marlins Park. He turned into the MVP in the National League. Looking at the road splits for Realmuto, we could see another breakout from a former Marlin.
The best catcher in baseball, who is leaving one of the worst hitting parks in the sport to come to one of the best, is going to enter into his prime in red pinstripes. This is glorious.
Losing Sixto hurts. Losing Alfaro does not
Sanchez, when healthy, is the best pitching prospect in the sport.
The problem is the injuries, which have limited him. Still, the Phillies just sent what some believe to be Pedro Martinez 2.0 to Miami for a 27-year-old catcher with two years left on his deal, though the Phillies can be expected to engage in extension talks with Realmuto. It’s a hefty price.
There's less worry about Alfaro coming back to bite the Phillies in the butt. The tools are all there for Alfaro, but there are a lot of holes in his game.
Last year it was hard to envision him turning into a player of Realmuto’s caliber. It was very much: Swing hard and hope to make contact. That led to Alfaro ranking 404th out of 405 players in whiff percentage. He couldn’t make contact. Sure, when he made contact the ball flew, but it was rare. He also struck out A LOT. It’s hard to see a guy who strikes out as much as he does becoming serviceable at the plate.
Alfaro’s defense was better than some are giving him credit for. He was one of the best pitch framers in baseball, though he struggled at blocking the ball, often falling to one knee to try and do it.
Stewart projects to be a nice lefty specialist in the coming years. He has a nasty curveball from the left side, but he’s nothing to be too worried about losing.
The Phillies aren’t messing around anymore
If they add Harper to Realmuto, you have a lineup that would be one of the deepest in all of baseball. Switch out Maikel Franco for Mike Moustakas and you get even scarier.
Think about this:
That has depth, on-base, power and balance.
By Jack Fritz