The J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes has concluded, and as speculated for months, he’ll stay in the National League East.
According to multiple reports, Miami traded its All-Star catcher to the Phillies on Thursday afternoon. The agreement brought three young players, including Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies’ top pitching prospect, and an international bonus slot to the Marlins.
It’s the Phillies’ latest substantial addition in an offseason they’re hoping will propel them into the NL’s elite. They’re also considered likely to land one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado on the free-agent market.
Each NL East team was connected to Realmuto at some point. The Nationals and Braves were linked to him for a calendar year, while the Mets and Phillies reportedly recurred throughout Miami’s lengthy process.
The Braves pivoted to Brian McCann when it became clear they weren’t meeting Miami’s requests. Along with the Marlins’ reluctance to deal him within the division (a standard they ultimately relinquished), they were seeking a major-league player from the Braves.
The Braves haven’t been involved in Realmuto talks for over a month, despite rumors to the contrary. Had the price dipped more into their comfort zone, perhaps they would’ve more seriously engaged the Marlins.
Realmuto, 27, is often regarded as the sport’s most complete catcher. He’s hit .279/.327/.442 across five seasons while being lauded for his game management. He garnered interest from several non-East teams, including the Dodgers, Reds, Padres, Astros and others.
Rather than invest a prospect bounty and pay a hefty extension in two years, the Braves were content with their current catching situation. Long-term commitments to catchers aren’t without risk, and while Realmuto certainly would’ve fit the lineup, general manager Alex Anthopoulos simply wasn’t in the mindset to do what he considered an overpay.
Braves veterans Tyler Flowers and McCann are set to split catching duties in 2019. Prospect William Contraras is an organization favorite, but it’ll be a while before he’s contributing in the majors. Both Flowers and McCann are one one-year deals.
Miami’s patience in the Realmuto market was rewarded with pitchers Will Stewart and Sanchez, along with catcher Jorge Alfaro and an international bonus slot. Alfaro, 25, met the Marlins’ reported desires to receive a backstop in the deal.
Realmuto was the last major piece of the Marlins’ selloff, which included trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon, among others, in the past 15 months.
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