The Phillies traded for J.T. Realmuto on Thursday. In what facets does he add value to the construction of the team? More than you may believe.
Realmuto has been acquired in exchange for Sixto Sanchez, Jorge Alfaro, Will Stewart, and international bonus pool money. Just six days ago, I had Sanchez as a pitcher to watch during Spring Training. How quickly things change.
Fans, we officially have a team in “buy” mode.
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A few months ago, I was surprised when the Phillies did not jump in on the discussions for Realmuto. I suggested it in a late-October post, so I’m glad the team obviously reads my work. After all, the Padres, Dodgers, Reds, and Mets (until Wilson Ramos was signed) were all checking in and negotiating with the Marlins before the Phils checked in.
Realmuto will be 28 in just over a month, and the Phillies gave up a prospect, a soon-to-be 26-year-old catcher, and a minor-leaguer. I really like the trade, but the team will have to get serious in trying to keep him around with an extension if they can’t find a viable option elsewhere.
Per Fangraphs, Realmuto had a walk rate of 7.2% and a strikeout rate of 19.6% in 2018. Of all players currently on the roster, only Maikel Franco struck out at a lower rate last year. Alfaro had a walk rate of 4.8% and a strikeout rate of 36.6%. That ability to put the ball in play will help the team in so many ways on offense.
I haven’t even gotten to defense yet. In my October post, I said the following about Alfaro:
“Runners stole 59 bases this season on Alfaro (third-most), compared to 21 caught, and he committed 10 passed balls this year (second-most), all in just 108 games. In addition, he had the worst fielding percentage (.989) amongst catchers with at least 800 innings”
Realmuto allowed 34 stolen bases and caught 21 stealing, good for the fourth-highest rate in the NL in 2018.
He had 10 passed balls and a .992 fielding percentage in 82 more innings (951) than Alfaro (869).
In case you still needed proof, Realmuto is better than Alfaro. It’s certainly a big help for the worst defensive team in the majors last year.
In terms of wins above replacement, Realmuto adds about three wins over Alfaro. I believe his bat presence in the lineup could add even more by forcing pitchers to go after other solid hitters (i.e. Rhys Hoskins, Manny Machado or Bryce Harper).
In addition (though I’m not sure of their collective knowledge of the game), Realmuto can help pitchers by calling better situational pitches and using his better defense (i.e. reducing the number of runners in scoring position) to their advantage.
The other end of this is the fact that the team gave up Sixto Sanchez. In blockbuster trades of the past, the young pitchers the club dealt include Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, and Jarred Cosart.
Out of that pool, Carrasco has had a good career to this point but did not become a full-time starter until six years after the Phillies traded him. Happ had a solid 2009 with the Phillies but did not have an ERA below 4.00 again until 2015. Drabek and Cosart both washed out quickly.
Sanchez is very talented. But with prospects, you need a lot to go right and have a lot of time in your hands. With the current roster makeup, the Phillies don’t have the time. This is a good baseball team that is ready to compete now and has the potential to get much better within the next six weeks.
All stats (unless otherwise noted) are courtesy baseballreference.com.