J.T. Realmuto could be traded within a few days, and the Phillies have what it takes to land the All-Star catcher as long as top prospect Sixto Sanchez is part of the deal.
After patiently gauging the market for most of the offseason, the Miami Marlins are focused on trading Realmuto before pitchers and catchers report to spring training next week, a league source said Wednesday. The Phillies recently re-engaged in talks for Realmuto and were told the Marlins covet the 20-year-old right-hander and catcher Jorge Alfaro, according to the source.
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Earlier Wednesday, MLB.com reported that the Marlins view Sanchez as a “must” in any Realmuto deal with the Phillies. The report also noted that the Marlins would like to complete a trade before they host a fan event Saturday that will be attended by their entire team.
Realmuto, who turns 28 next month, is widely regarded as the best all-around catcher in baseball. He will make $5.9 million this year and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, by which time the Marlins are still unlikely to have completed their full-scale rebuild under Derek Jeter’s leadership.
The Phillies talked to the Marlins in November about Realmuto, who made clear through his agent that he wanted to be traded, but the asking price was steep. It seems that not much has changed, at least for the Marlins to agree to send Realmuto to a division rival.
Sanchez is the Phillies’ top pitching prospect and could be fast tracked to the majors once he is fully healthy. He made eight starts last season at high-A Clearwater and registered a 2.51 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 46⅔ innings. The Phillies would likely be wary to trade him, even for Realmuto.
There is some concern over Sanchez’s health. He was shut down last June due to inflammation in his right elbow. The Phillies ramped up his activity in September to have him ready for the Arizona Fall League, but he had collarbone issues and the Phillies shut him down again. He is expected to be healthy for the start of minor-league spring training.
The Phillies remain high on Alfaro, with team officials often noting the 25-year-old’s impressive power. He hit 10 homers and slugged .407 in 344 at-bats as a rookie last season. But he also struck out 138 times and remains a work in progress defensively.
Jimmy Rollins and Mike Schmidt headline this year’s group of alumni who will return to Clearwater as spring-training instructors.
Rollins and Schmidt will join the team intermittently along with Bobby Abreu, Chad Durbin, Jim Eisenreich, and Dan Plesac. Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel will be in uniform for the entirety of spring training, which begins next week when pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday.