Phillies Acquire J.T. Realmuto from Marlins

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The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins. And they’re paying a heavy price to do it. The clubs just announced that the Phillies are sending top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, lefty Will Stewart, and international bonus pool money to Miami.

Realmuto, who will turn 28 during spring training, is coming off an All-Star season in which he hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs, 74 RBI, and 74 runs scored in 531 plate appearances. By FanGraphs’ version of WAR Realmuto was the best catcher in baseball in 2018 by a substantial margin, outpacing second-place Yasmani Grandal by 1.2 wins. He was hurt by his pitcher-friendly home park as well, so between a literal change of scenery from moving to Citizens Bank Park and a philosophical change of scenery from leaving the dreary world of Miami Marlins baseball, there is reason to believe that he’ll have a nice 2019. Ask Christian Yelich how that works.

That’s all good — it’s a big pickup for the Phillies — but to get him they are giving up one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Sanchez, 20, throws what ESPN’s Keith Law recently described as “the easiest 100 mph fastball in pro baseball.” He was just ranked as baseball’s 13th best overall prospect by Baseball America, 23rd by Baseball Prospectus, 27th by MLB.com, and 35th by ESPN. This despite the fact that he has yet to pitch an inning above A-ball. While his 2018 season was cut short by elbow inflammation, he is reported to be healthy again and ready to resume a minor league career that has already seen him post a 2.48 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 191/43 in 221.1 innings.

Alfaro, who was slated to be the Phillies’ starting catcher, hit .262/.324/.407 (OPS+ 95) with ten homers in 377 plate appearances last year. Stewart was a 20th round pick for the Phillies in 2015. He’s coming off an excellent 20-start season in A-ball in which he posted a 2.06 ERA.

Realmuto is certainly an upgrade behind the plate for the Phillies. The question people will ask, at least if Sanchez fulfills his considerable potential, is whether the Phillies could’ve realized a significant upgrade behind the plate by signing a free agent, such as Wilson Ramos or Yasmani Grandal and giving up only money, rather than a blue chip prospect, to do it.

That may be a question that is never asked — pitching prospects can break your heart — or, at the very most, will be asked another day. For now the Phillies are finally getting their man and the Marlins, at long last, are unloading a catcher who made no secret about wanting out of Miami.

A lot of baseball teams have decided that they didn’t want to improve themselves this offseason. One cannot say that about the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Buffalo Blue Jays? The team has reportedly asked about playing there

The Buffalo Blue Jays
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The Buffalo Blue Jays? Is that a thing? Maybe.

The Toronto Blue Jays are, officially, set to begin their season at Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 29. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, however, reports that they are looking at alternatives:

Multiple sources confirm to The Buffalo News that the Bisons’ parent club has finally reached out to Rich Baseball Operations in the last couple of days to examine the possibility of Toronto’s home schedule being played in Buffalo this summer.

This report of a potential for the Buffalo Blue Jays to make their debut comes a couple of days after the strict restrictions on movement for Jays players — they are reportedly required to stick to the Rogers Centre and the connecting hotel or face harsh punishment — met with at least some backlash. The restrictions are inevitable, however, given that Canada is requiring a 14-day quarantine for people traveling into the country. Since the Jays will be playing all road games in the United States, there is little choice for them but to be restricted to their hotel and the ballpark after arriving back in the country after playing games in the states.

As Harrington notes, Buffalo is not an ideal option given the less-than-major-league-level lighting and clubhouse space present in the Triple-A park, so it would not be ideal. Like everyone else these days, however, the Buffalo Blue Jays — er, I’m sorry, the Toronto Blue Jays — have little choice but to scramble.