The Marlins love the strength in Jorge Alfaro’s arm.
It’s the glaring hole in his swing that gives pause.
When the Marlins traded J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies for Alfaro and two minor-league pitching prospects on Thursday, they knew they weren’t exchanging equals at the catching position.
Everyone knew it.
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Why else would the Phillies give up not just Alfaro, but also their top pitching prospect in Sixto Sanchez, along with an intriguing minor-league lefty in Will Stewart and $125,000 international bonus slot, in order to complete the deal?
Realmuto is not just an All-Star. He’s regarded as one of the best catchers — if not THE best — in the majors. And the Phillies are in win-now mode as opposed to the Marlins, who are rebuilding and likely to lose 100 games this season.
No, Alfaro is no Realmuto.
But he’s far from an ordinary throw-in, someone the Marlins can plug behind the plate as a stop-gap measure until the day comes they’re ready to win, or minor-league prospect Will Banfield is ready to take over in a few years. Alfaro has already given strong indication he’s an everyday catcher, and the Marlins plan on making him just that.
It’s why manager Don Mattingly at Saturday’s FanFest was singing Alfaro’s praise at the same time he was raising caution flags.
“We’ve got good reports, intel from the Philadelphia side,” Mattingly said. “He’s a great kid, he works hard, knows that he has to continue to work with the pitchers and get better with all that.”
Alfaro last season hit .262 with 10 home runs in 104 games behind the plate for the Phillies. His arm ranks as the strongest in the majors.
“I don’t know if anybody throws better,” Mattingly said. “J.T. threw great. This guy, he throws better.”
Alfaro also graded out better than Realmuto at framing pitches, another key measure for catchers.
But Alfaro led the league in passed balls and was one of the worst catchers in the majors blocking pitches (112th of 115).