In October, J.T. Realmuto’s agent predicted the Miami Marlins’ All-Star catcher would be with another team by spring training.
He was right.
Realmuto was traded Thursday to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Jorge Alfaro, two pitching prospects and international signing bonus pool allocation.
Along with Alfaro, the Marlins acquired highly regarded pitchers Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart.
Realmuto had been with the Marlins longer than any other current player. Last fall his agent, Jeff Berry, said Realmuto informed the Marlins he wouldn’t sign a long-term contract with them and predicted a trade.
Philadelphia, still pursuing free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, has bolstered its lineup with the additions of Realmuto, shortstop Jean Segura and 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. The Phillies had the worst batting average in the major leagues last year (.234) and were third in strikeouts (1,520). They led their division with the second-best record in the NL one week into August, then went 16-33 over the final 49 games and finished with a losing record (80-82) for the sixth straight season.
Miami’s rebuilding project will probably continue for several years under CEO Derek Jeter, whose group bought the team after the 2017 season.
The Marlins had been talking for months with other numerous teams about a Realmuto trade before deciding to send him to their NL East rivals. Miami pitchers and catchers report to spring training Wednesday.
Alfaro is expected to replace Realmuto as Miami’s starting catcher. He hit .262 with 10 homers in his first full major league season last year.
Sanchez, a hard-throwing 20-year-old Dominican right-hander is considered a top prospect. He has a 2.48 ERA in 48 minor league games over four seasons but pitched just 46 2/3 innings in Single A last season due to right elbow inflammation.
Realmuto was a first-time All-Star in his fourth season last year. He hit .277 and set career highs with 21 homers, 74 RBIs and an OPS of .825. He turns 28 in March.
Realmuto was in his second season of arbitration eligibility this winter. He will make $5.9 million in 2019, and he can become a free agent after the 2020 season.
The Marlins finished last in the NL East last year with a 63-98 record. They haven’t had a winning season since 2009 and haven’t been to the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2003.