J.T. Realmuto fantasy's top catcher after being rescued by Philadelphia

Yahoo Sports

J.T. Realmuto is already one of 2019’s big winners. He’s successfully escaped from Miami.

The Phillies are a plausible playoff contender. The Marlins, well, they’re the laughingstock of baseball, years away from relevance. Realmuto was dangled on the trade market for most of the offseason, and on Thursday, Miami finally found a package it liked.

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The Marlins picked up catcher Jorge Alfaro, a pair of pitching prospects, and $250,000 in international bonus money. It’s a reasonable haul. One of the prospects, 20-year-old RHP Sixto Sanchez, was Philadelphia’s top-rated farmhand. Alfaro, 25, is an adequate starting catcher.

Then again, Realmuto, who turns 28 next month, is already a star. And his fantasy value, already lofty, gets a bump with the move.

Last seen swinging in Japan, J.T. Realmuto takes his all-star bat to Philadelphia. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
Last seen swinging in Japan, J.T. Realmuto takes his all-star bat to Philadelphia. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Realmuto has been a Top 5 fantasy catcher for three years running, and he jumped to the No. 1 spot last year (.277/.340/.484, 21 homers). Despite Miami’s sickly lineup around him — the Marlins were far and away the lowest-scoring team in baseball — Realmuto scored 74 runs and knocked in 74, despite a modest 125 games played. The Phillies weren’t an offensive party by any means — 22nd in runs — but they did score 88 more runs than Miami. This is an unmistakable upgrade.

Realmuto won’t miss batting in Marlins Park, one of the graveyards of the majors. His career slash line is .245/.294/.383 at home, .309/.356/.492 elsewhere. Citizens Bank Ballpark has been a misunderstood yard for several years — it’s good for homers, a mild tax on runs — but Realmuto gets a step forward anyway, escaping a toxic hitting environment and settling in with better teammates.

Realmuto was already the No. 1 or No. 2 catcher on most expert boards — I initially slotted him second, behind Gary Sanchez. With this news, I’ve elevated Realmuto the No. 1 slot. His NFBC ADP sits around 56 through the last two months; I suspect that will climb about half a round in coming weeks.

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