Former Phillies top prospect once again proves how lopsided Realmuto trade really was

The trade that brought J.T. Realmuto to Philly is looking better for the Phillies each day, especially after Sixto Sánchez surfaced at Marlins training camp this week.

Former Philadelphia Phillies top prospect Sixto Sánchez is at Miami Marlins training camp
Former Philadelphia Phillies top prospect Sixto Sánchez is at Miami Marlins training camp / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing trades in sports is all part of the fun. With baseball, in particular, trade analysis is amusing because swaps typically involve an organization's young talent. In blockbuster trade scenarios, it's always interesting to see how a former highly touted prospect performs with their new club in relation to the value of the superstar they were traded for in return.

When the Philadelphia Phillies acquired catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins in February of 2019, they gave up two highly ranked prospects in Sixto Sánchez and Jorge Alfaro. At the time, the former was ranked as the 27th-best prospect in baseball. Alfaro was seen as a serviceable catcher but was ultimately made expendable to bring in the best backstop in Major League Baseball at the time.

Images of Sánchez surfaced this week, and let's just say he did not arrive at Marlins' camp as a member of the "In the Best Shape of My Life" club. That is not unreasonable, given the amount of time the young right-hander has missed due to injury.

Realmuto has been a valuable member of the Phillies franchise since his arrival in Philadelphia. The same cannot be said for the prospects that went to Miami in return for his services.

Evaluating the Realmuto trade heading into 2024

The Phillies were the clear-cut winners of the trade with Miami. Sánchez's conditioning heading into spring training is not the real reason, however. The former Phillies No. 1 prospect has not pitched in the majors since 2020, when he showed flashes of talent. Injuries have derailed his ascent to becoming an everyday big leaguer. In 2023, he appeared in just one game for Miami's Double-A Pensacola before being shelved again.

As the main return piece of the trade for Miami, it's disappointing that he has had such little impact with the club since being acquired. He is still just 25 years old and could still pitch if he can stay healthy, but at this point, the Marlins missed some of his developmental years. It's unclear how much rust has accrued over his long injury span.

The other two parts of the trade — Alfaro and Will Stewart — never made much of an impact for Miami either. Stewart, 26, has never seen an MLB mound and is still in the system at Triple-A Jacksonville. Alfaro was traded to the San Diego Padres in 2021. As a member of the Marlins, his best season was 2019, when he hit 18 home runs and slashed .262/.312/.425. After that, Alfaro's numbers dropped off and he provided little value.

Realmuto, on the other hand, has been a key part of a Phillies lineup that has made back-to-back postseason appearances and is looking to make another deep postseason run in 2024. Even though age and innings have caught up to the Phillies' backstop a little, he is still regarded as one of the top catchers in baseball. The Phillies would make that trade again every single time.