Phillies challenge Braves’ risk-averse approach with Realmuto trade

Will Atlanta let championship window close while waiting for prospects to "arrive?"

Joe Patrick
February 07, 2019 - 3:52 pm

Baseball fans across the country have waited weeks, if not months, for the free agency market to kick into gear, and the Philadelphia Phillies’ capture of the world’s most eligible catcher, J.T. Realmuto, may be the catalyst that sets the gears in motion.

Of course, the biggest name that fans and GMs alike are waiting on is the signing of Bryce Harper. But Realmuto, could be an impetus in helping facilitate Harper’s move — or that’s what the Phillies are hoping for according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has been consistent in his messaging that the Braves are willing to splash the cash if the right opportunity presents itself. The only question Braves fans have now is: Will that opportunity ever come?

Instead of dealing prospects for Realmuto as the Phillies have done — sending top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, among others, to South Beach — the Braves decided to take the thrifty route by keeping their top prospects and instead signing hometown veteran Brian McCann to a cheap one-year deal. And like the one-year deals agreed to with Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis this offseason, the Braves’ strategy is clear: Avoid risk at all costs.

This runs counter to what is happening in Philadelphia, a franchise that has once before reaped the rewards and suffered through the unfortunate consequences of hefty long-term contracts — players like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the early ‘10s come to mind. In potentially splashing the cash on Harper and, in due time, an extension for Realmuto, the Phillies are once again showing a willingness to be bold with their financial outlay, risks be damned.

The Phillies approach is one that many Braves fans want to see happen now in Atlanta.

Last year’s run to the NL East title showed that the Braves have run into a championship “window” ahead of schedule. The risk that’s feared now is that the Braves will let the opportunity pass by playing it safe.