The Philadelphia Phillies lost the Sixto Sanchez trade, and that’s okay

Trying to internally justify the Philadelphia Phillies trading away a future Hall of Famer.

It took me awhile to get here, but I think I’m finally ready to admit that the Philadelphia Phillies lost the Sixto Sanchez trade. For about the first 15 months, it looked like the Phils had finally found themselves on the “winning” side of a blockbuster trade. They had acquired the best catcher in baseball JT Realmuto, and the Miami Marlins got an injury-prone prospect who nobody heard a peep from for all of 2019.

Now, with Sanchez throwing seven inning complete games and Realmuto injured (and still without a contract), it’s not looking too favorable for the Phillies.

The Philadelphia Phillies quite literally found Sanchez by accident, as they were scouting a Cuban catcher at the time in 2014. The team’s scouts saw Sanchez throwing a bullpen session, and inked him to a contract worth $35,000. Considering just how bad the Phillies scouting department has been in recent years, it’s really not too surprising that the one great prospect they stumbled upon was a complete and utter mistake.

Sanchez quickly rose up through the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, wowing team officials with his insane levels of velocity. He was regularly throwing triple-digit fastballs, and the rest of his “stuff” had major league quality spin to it. Despite his impressive minor league performances, Sanchez also seriously struggled with injuries, which caused a few of the team’s front office employees to sour on him.

When it was revealed that catcher JT Realmuto was being made available following the 2018 season, it was a bit of an easy decision for the Phils’ front office to make. The Marlins really liked Sanchez, the Phillies weren’t too high on him anymore, and Realmuto looked like the perfect complimentary piece to pair alongside newly acquired franchise superstar Bryce Harper.

Fast forward almost two years later, and two truths have emerged from the trade. First, Realmuto did turn out to be the perfect complimentary piece to pair alongside Harper, and second, Sixto Sanchez was way better than the Phillies had initially valued him at.

Sanchez has now made five starts for the Marlins here in 2020, and he’s quite literally emerged as the best young pitcher in all of baseball. He has an 1.69 ERA and a 0.906 WHIP, and he’s drawn praise from the likes of Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Sanchez is regularly gunning in fastballs at 100 mph, and his offspeed stuff simply disappears at the plate.

Sanchez appears to be well on his way to that of an “Ace” status, which would signal that the Phillies got absolutely fleeced in their trading of him. While that is most likely true, this was still a risk worth taking for the Phils. They had just paid big money for Harper, and they had to be all-in on surrounding him with elite talent. While this strategy of going “win now” obviously failed (as it looks like they’ll miss the playoffs again here in 2020), one has to at least acknowledge it has been a move fans have been begging for for almost 10 years now.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been stuck in a endless loop of mediocrity since 2012, constantly developing below average prospects and then shipping them away for nothing. For the first time in years, the team had a chance to acquire multiple All-Stars in one offseason, and they went for it. As much as it hurts now, Realmuto has still been a phenomenal player for the Phillies thus far, and is well on his way to being the greatest catcher in team history. It would obviously be nice to have a young pitcher of Sanchez’ caliber, but it’s also nice having the best catcher in baseball.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies: JoJo Romero’s importance keeps on rising

The Phillies “lost” their trade with the Marlins, but it really shouldn’t sting as much as some are pretending it does. Realmuto is great, Sanchez is great, both teams got great players and both teams got better in doing so. All of it can be true.

Now granted if Realmuto walks in free agency you might as well burn down Citizens Bank Park, but that’s a topic for another day!

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