This is a guest post from longtime Marlins fan Brian Rowland.
The exit of J.T. Realmuto has been quickly forgotten, not because the Marlins made a great trade (which they did), but because Jorge Alfaro has jumped on the opportunity to play on a team that fosters earning opportunity based on performance.
Since the minute Alfaro learned of the trade, he has been nothing but positive about going all out and bringing a winning culture to Miami. Immediate interviews from “El Oso” (“The Bear”) himself gave Marlins fans hope—despite losing the arguably best catcher in the game, they had gotten the better end of the deal. Even in today’s baseball era of analytics, you can’t make up for attitude. Alfaro is quickly showing us why those intangibles need to be considered.
Jorge saw limited action during Spring Training after chasing a foul pop-up into the dugout, injuring his right knee in the process. But he had no regrets and made comments of always giving maximum effort. For the games he did play, the new backstop put together solid plate appearances—totaling only 10 at-bats, he still managed a .300 batting average.
Jorge’s great all-around play factored into several Marlins defeats the past couple seasons (3 HR, .868 OPS in 19 G). Miami executives saw up front and personally just how clutch of a player he could be. Paired with the normal scouting process and the inevitability of divorcing with Realmuto, it was a no-brainer to acquire El Oso for themselves.
Alfaro was ranked as high as the No. 3 prospect in the Phillies organization before graduating from prospect eligibility. He had respectable sampling in Philadelphia, hitting .262 last season while playing the first half at only 24 years of age.
Now with the Marlins, his first week has shown that he is a bigger part of the Realmuto trade than many analysts had anticipated.
On Opening Day, the new Marlins backstop put one into the seats right in front of 25,000 of his new fans, doing what he could to let Miami know he’s here to win. Jump forward to April 7 and Miami is in the midst of a losing streak. Jorge put two more homers into the stands, homers that would have also cleared the fences of spacious Marlins Park.
The new backstop now sports an OPS over .900 at a key skill position. While not all the recent Marlins trades have worked out as desired, the trading out of a catcher two years older—who was looking toward free agency, anyway—looks to have been an immediate benefit to this 2019 Marlins squad.
Combine all these points with the fact that Alfaro is only 25 years old, he may be just the kind of player that Miami execs should jump to sign to a long-term offer (as many other MLB teams have done recently with their young impact stars).
Realmutwho? He’s ancient history. Fans should turn the page and start coming to a few more ballgames.
Alfaro and Realmuto will play head-to-head for the first time with their new teams this Friday. Discounted tickets and an exclusive Marlins watch giveaway are available here.