The Philadelphia Phillies involvement in the 2019 free agent market has really slowed down since their meeting with Bryce Harper in Las Vegas in January. Since then, he gave the tease of a decision following suit in the nearby future, which even I fell for. At the same time, Manny Machado has yet to even acknowledge his existence lately, making his “hot” stove ice cold.
During the offseason, J.T. Realmuto rumors were circling across the league as well. They seemed to have zero interest coming from the Phillies. That was until reports came out yesterday, stating that talks between the club and Realmuto were “heating up” (via ESPN).
Compared to the other rumors in the MLB this offseason, Derek Jeter and David Montgomery took gasoline to these heating up discussions to complete this deal. By the very next day, Feb. 7, the Miami Marlins had sent the star catcher to Philadelphia in a package deal. The package included Sixto Sanchez (the No. 1 prospect for the Phillies), former catcher Jorge Alfaro and pitching prospect Will Stewart.
This deal is multidimensional from an analyst’s standpoint. So, let us begin with the most obvious level. The Phillies have acquired the best catcher in baseball.
Acquiring the best
Some may not put him at the top of their MLB catcher’s list, due to legends like Buster Posey and Yadier Molina still playing. Also, Wilson Contreras and Salvador Perez are still expanding their games. It is an interesting debate to have, but if you look at the numbers, it is clear why this is such a huge deal.
This will be the sixth season for the 27-year-old catcher. The phenom already has 555 hits, 114 doubles, 59 home runs and 243 RBI’s. He is a consistent hitter, with a career average of .279, a .442 slugging percentage and a .768 OPS. The power numbers have trended north every season, including a career-high 21 HR’s, 74 RBI’s and 38 walks. These impressive numbers in the 2018 season gave him his first Mid-season classic, along with a silver slugger award in the fall.
Now that he will go from playing 82 games at Marlins park to three, that alone could make an astonishing change to his stats. In the all-star’s career, he has a .291 wOBA at home, as opposed to a .364 wOBA in all other parks. That is the biggest differential in years. A home field disadvantage of this size is unheard of,. It means that with a full season at Citizen’s Bank Park ahead of him could be even more dangerous for the National League East.
In addition to these offensive numbers and hopefully a new look, Realmuto is arguably the most well-rounded and athletic backstop as well. When it comes to speed, he ranks sixth in caught stealing percentage (38 percent) and first in catcher sprint speed (28.6 feet per second), which was shown earlier in his career when he legged out an inside the park homerun in none other place than: Citizens Bank Park.
In addition, he leads the league in numerous defensive rankings as well. Including first in pop time (1.90 seconds), second in catcher arm strength (87.8 MPH), second in catcher wRC+ (126), and first in catcher WAR with and without framing (5.8/4.8).
Now, to look at the other end of the spectrum with the Marlins side of the bargain, the Phillies still seem to come out on top for their future as well. Although losing their number one prospect in Sanchez seems like a monumental loss for their farm system, it could have been worse. The Phillies knew that their top AAA arm would have to be apart of the deal for it to happen, but for the team to hold onto Luis Garcia, the shortstop prospect that ranked right behind Sanchez. The Marlins are in an obvious rebuild, where the Phillies are built to win tomorrow. And with this lineup, it looks more than possible.
Lastly, the final level of this deal is one that probably came into the mind of Montgomery during the process but could be a great side effect to the deal. With yet another large signing for Philadelphia this offseason, this move could especially make the team more appealing for the two players that no longer need introduction.
Although seemingly out on the Machado sweepstakes, it never hurts to hear back from him, since nobody has seemed to. For Harper, however, this could be exactly what he needed. As stated before, he has been very quiet sine the meeting with the Phillies, only including small articles about him meeting with other teams rather secretively.
The Padres and Giants have recently done so, which should not be so much of a threat for the Phillies chances, but it could also be a sign of caution to not plan the signing party yet. Hopefully this highly talented, with what is not an overly expensive contract, can show Harper the team is ready to win now.
Above all else, this Realmuto signing is huge for the team, and although the team’s offseason action is not necessarily done yet, I think I an speak for all fans in saying that we are ready for baseball already. Hopefully this will not be the last signing reported on this page before the season begins, but the ball is in Harper’s court.
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