Phillies: Evaluating the return for Cole Hamels three years later

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 07: Nick Williams #5 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Jorge Alfaro #38 after scoring on a RBI single in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 07: Nick Williams #5 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Jorge Alfaro #38 after scoring on a RBI single in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 14: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies swings and misses a pitch in the eighth inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park on August 14, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Red Sox won 2-1. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Jorge Alfaro

Of all the players in the Hamels deal, Jorge Alfaro has both the biggest upside and the biggest risk. At the time of the trade, he was a big catcher with plenty of raw power and a cannon of an arm. Meanwhile, he lacked a consistent hit tool and was a major work in progress with the finer aspects of catching.

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Fast forward to this year, and Alfaro has more or less fit the bill. He leads the National League in assists as a catcher and runners caught stealing. He is a strong pitch framer with 10.4 framing runs according to Baseball Prospectus, the second-most of all catchers this season. On the other hand, he has allowed more passed balls and stolen bases than any other NL catcher.

Alfaro has fared poorly at the plate. In 89 games this year, he has eight home runs, 28 runs batted in, a .250/.308/.390 line, and 84 wRC+. His strikeouts have been especially concerning, striking out in 37.4 percent of his plate appearances. His 119 strikeouts coming into Thursday were the sixth-most in the NL.

Alfaro has been relegated to a backup role with the acquisition of Wilson Ramos. If Ramos impresses, he could very well be re-signed for the next few years. As it stands now, Alfaro would be a more than adequate backup. However, his ceiling is so much higher than that, and if he puts everything together, he can be one of the best catchers in the league.

Alfaro is still just 25 years old, and catchers often take longer to develop. He has spent much more time this season focusing on his defense, so it’s not a surprise his offense has taken a step back. If he can just get his offense up to league-average in the near future, that would still make him one of the better offensive catchers in the game. If he rises even higher than that, watch out.

Next. Phillies vs Mets: The 2018 season in two acts. dark

Even though the trade happened more than three years ago, the ultimate return of the trade is far from certain. It will take us at least the next few years to fully figure things out, but the fact that the trade is still playing a huge role in the team’s future is a good thing.

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