Phillies may regret trading Sixto Sanchez for J.T. Realmuto

Sixto Sánchez #73 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Sixto Sánchez #73 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez showed impressive stuff in his MLB debut with the Marlins on Saturday

When the Philadelphia Phillies dealt their then-ranked top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez to the Miami Marlins in February 2019 as part of the trade to acquire perennial All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, the right-hander was described as a “dynamic talent and a potential future ace.”

The Marlins were adamant that Sanchez be included in the trade — which also landed them starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, minor-leaguer Will Stewart, and international bonus slot money from the Phillies.

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Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley, and Adonis Medina — who still remain in the Phillies system — were among the other names being discussed, but ultimately it was Stewart included as the third piece.

Fast-forward to this weekend, Sanchez has made his long-awaited Major League Baseball debut. Taking on the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals as the starter in the second game of a doubleheader, Sanchez impressed early on; in the first inning alone, he tossed eight pitches 97 miles per hour or faster.

In total, Sanchez pitched in five innings, allowing six hits, three runs, two home runs, and no walks, while striking out four batters. His efforts were good enough to earn his first major-league victory.

The question becomes, if the Phillies cannot re-sign Realmuto this offseason, was trading Sanchez worth it? The best-case scenario for the Marlins is that the 22-year-old Sanchez becomes a mainstay in their rotation for years to come.

Also, you have to wonder if the Phillies could have made the Marlins budge and still have completed the Realmuto trade without Sanchez being a piece of the puzzle. Perhaps, they could have been more willing to part ways with other prospects, such as former first-round pick Moniak and Medina, both of whom were not invited to the team’s summer camp and 2020 player pool.

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In other words, the Phillies perhaps could have still acquired Realmuto while keeping Sanchez in their organization.

The Phillies signed Sanchez as an international prospect for $35,000 in 2015. During his age 17-year season in 2016, the right-hander dazzled with a 5-0 record and 0.50 ERA in 11 starts at the rookie level. Then, Sanchez began his ascent in the minor-league system, but reached only as high as the Advanced-A level before the trade.

In 20 starts last season with the Marlins’ Advanced-A and Double-A affiliates, Sanchez combined to go 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA, 103-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.070 WHIP spanning 114 innings. From 2016-19, Sanchez never posted a WHIP ratio in a single season higher than 1.071.