Barry Jackson

Did the Miami Marlins win or lose on the Realmuto deal? National MLB analysts weigh in

A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Monday:

Evaluators for national networks are offering general positive assessments of the J.T. Realmuto trade with Philadelphia.

ESPN baseball evaluator Keith Law said, via text message, that the Marlins got “fair value” for J.T. Realmuto, but the “injury history” (throwing arm) and “small frame” are concerns for top prospect Sixto Sanchez.

“And his secondary stuff isn’t there,” Law said. The other pitching prospect acquired, Will Stewart, “is more than a throw in.”

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More Law, from his piece:

“Sanchez’s velocity will sit in the 96-101 mph range when he starts, and he throws it for strikes to go with secondary stuff that is all largely inconsistent. I have had executives express concerns to me over his elbow and his shoulder, and there’s just the general industry skepticism of any short right-hander. He could be a top-end starter if he holds up, and if he cannot handle a starter’s workload, he would still have a high potential value in a relief role. He’s the Marlins’ new No. 1 prospect and he now gives them one player on my top 100.”

Catcher Jorge Alfaro “has a cannon of an arm. He’s a poor blocker and receiver, leading the National League in passed balls last year while coming in one wild pitch behind the leader in that category. But Alfaro’s main issue is and always has been that he’s an inveterate hacker at the plate: He drew 12 unintentional walks last year in over 370 plate appearances, and even that is with the benefit of batting eighth most of the time he was in the lineup.

“Will Stewart is the ‘other’ prospect in the deal, a slight lefty who’s a bit of a scouts’ favorite and was No. 11 on my Phillies list before the trade. A best-case scenario for him would have him mature into a league-average starter, assuming he holds up and finds some kind of average third pitch.”

Here was Sirius XM host Jim Bowden’s take, for The Athletic: “The Marlins made the best trade they could for Realmuto, who was only under team control for two more years and made it clear he would not re-sign. It’s just unfortunate that more contending teams weren’t willing to offer a better prospect package. If all goes well in terms of health and player development, the return in this deal for Miami should be better than the ones they got in the Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich trades.

“Sanchez is considered one of the top five pitching prospects in baseball and has been compared to a young Pedro Martínez at the same stage. ... Alfaro’s two best tools are his throwing arm and his power — and both are special. Alfaro has one of the best throwing arms of any catcher in the game and has the legitimate power to hit 30 home runs someday. He needs continued work on calling a game, framing pitches and blocking balls. “

The good news on new catcher Alfaro, who’s under team control through 2023: His .262 average was fourth highest among NL catchers last season and is 10 for 21 all time at Marlins Park. He has a great throwing arm. His numbers are solid for the first 143 games of a big-league career: .270, 15 homers, 51 RBI. He’s considered on the ascent.

The bad news: He struck out 36.6 percent of the time and led the NL in passed balls (10), errors (11) and most steals allowed (59).

The Marlins are very diligent about the player development aspect.

When every player’s season ended last year, “we laid out what we think guys need to work on,” Don Mattingly said Saturday. “We let everyone know how important this winter will be. During winter is when you make true strides. We’re counting on our guys getting a lot better.”

As an example, outfielder/top position prospect Monte Harrison said he received personal input from a several people — team CEO Derek Jeter, Marlins director of player development and scouting Gary Denbo and new hitting coordinator Eric Duncan. “They all have their own opinions, but I still have to correct myself,” he said.

Does it mean something significant to get feedback from Jeter?

“It does,” Harrison said. “It makes you come to attention just to know that a guy like that who has been in the game for a very long time and has been successful. It gives me a lot of confidence and it makes me work even harder.”

If new additions Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson show they have something left, they could end up being bargains at a combined $4 million (including incentives).

Walker expects “a lot of chances, especially against right-handed pitching at first base. I’m willing to play any position outside of center field and shortstop. I’ve played everywhere. Wherever I’m asked to play, I’m going to do it. I was asked to play right field in Yankee Stadium in the middle of a playoff hunt [last year] and I hadn’t been in the outfield in eight years.”

Walker said Granderson is “humble and smart and hard working as any guy you’ll see. Playing with him and being his teammate is an honor. What he’s going to bring to the ballclub is going to be invaluable, especially to the younger crop of players. Hopefully between him, myself and Martin and Starlin and some of the pitchers, we can do things the right way, be professionals and help this team move in the right direction.”

Mattingly, asked if it’s difficult for Jeter to be patient through a rebuild: “Derek is not going to be patient not playing the game right, not competing. You play to win every day. You don’t talk about not being good enough. He knows where we’re at. So in a sense, you have to have some patience. But you don’t have patience if a guy is not playing the game right, if he’s not working.”

Mattingly expects an interesting shortstop battle between Miguel Rojas (.252, 11 homers, 53 RBI last season) and J.T. Riddle (.231, 9, 36).

“Miggy had a tremendous year last year,” Mattingly said. “He showed us he continues to get better all the time. We know his versatility. He can do a lot of things. JT we think has a lot of upside. Last year was kind of a lost year coming off shoulder surgery; lost 15 pounds [last year] coming into camp. This year he walks in healthy.”

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