Tuesday night, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury that the Phillies have engaged in recent conversations with the Miami Marlins regarding a trade for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. A new report from Joe Frisaro of MLB.com emerged on Wednesday indicating that, in order for a trade to occur, the Phillies "must" include prized pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez.
That’s a hard bargain, but it’s one the Phillies may have to consider.
Salisbury reported on Tuesday that the Phillies were linked to Realmuto during the winter meetings two months ago, but at the time, a source told him the Phillies didn’t have enough prospects to pull off a deal. He added that after months of trying to deal Realmuto that the price tag may have come down. It appears that price tag still includes Sanchez.
Realmuto is one of the game’s top players at his position and won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season, but Sanchez offers the Phillies the type of upside few pitching prospects can offer.
Only 20 years old, Sanchez has been a member of the Phillies' organization since February 2015 and has been shooting up the Baseball America prospect rankings ever since, landing himself as the 13th-best prospect in all of baseball, according to the publication, this season.
A hard-throwing righty, Sanchez has dazzled in his time in the minor leagues thus far, including last year in a season shortened because of injury when he was shut down in June with elbow soreness. All told, Sanchez has thrown 221 1/3 innings the past four seasons with a 2.48 ERA and 191 strikeouts with 43 walks over four levels.
There are a few important things to consider here for the Phillies if Sanchez is the guy you have to part with. As Corey Seidman indicated Tuesday (see story), a deal for Realmuto would likely include the Phillies' starting catcher, 25-year-old Jorge Alfaro, along with Sanchez, who we now know the Marlins covet. Should the Phillies give up on Sanchez without seeing him pitch above High A Clearwater? It has worked out for the team in the past.
In 2009, the Phillies had another hard-throwing pitching prospect many thought to be untouchable, but the right trade came around and the Phillies dealt Jason Knapp to the Cleveland Indians as the centerpiece of the deal that brought Cliff Lee to Philadelphia for the first time. Knapp then struggled with injuries, was converted to a relief pitcher and never made it past High A.
Now, there’s nothing indicating that Sanchez won’t overcome the elbow injury that plagued him last season and become the player some are comparing to Pedro Martinez, but there’s significant risk with a 20-year-old who may end up in the bullpen, or perhaps worse, if the injury struggles continue.
If the Phillies feel good about landing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, with the duo of Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta on the hill and a lineup that could include five former All-Stars and Rhys Hoskins, you have to consider taking a shot with a trade for Realmuto, who is only due $5.9 million in 2019 with one more arbitration year before hitting free agency after the 2020 season.
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