CLEARWATER, Fla. -- J.T. Realmuto spent much of his offseason scrolling through Twitter, searching for news about his future.
His wife, Lexi, did the same.
"Just trying to find out if anybody knows any scoop that we didn't know," Realmuto said Tuesday afternoon at an introductory news conference with the Phillies at Spectrum Field. "It was a little stressful, a little different for us, but we're definitely happy with the outcome. It all worked out in God's time, and we're happy with it."
Realmuto learned Thursday afternoon, while having lunch with his wife, mother and brother, that the Marlins had traded him to the Phillies for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart and $250,000 in international bonus slot money. The Realmutos returned home to prepare for a 17-hour drive from Oklahoma City, Okla., to Clearwater. Their bags had been packed -- they had been waiting to know if they should drive to Arizona or Florida for Spring Training -- so Realmuto hit the gym one final time. They had dinner with his grandparents and said their goodbyes to family before they drove through the night with their infant daughter, Gracie, and their dog.
They checked into their Clearwater condo by 5 p.m. Friday.
"In all honesty, I'm just excited to play for a team that has a chance to win a championship," Realmuto said.
The Phillies believe they have acquired the best catcher in baseball, enhancing their chances at a National League East title. Realmuto hit .277 with 21 home runs, 74 RBIs and an .825 OPS last season with the Marlins. Those numbers could jump playing half his games at Citizens Bank Park as opposed to Marlins Park.
Realmuto's career home splits (.244/.292/.384) are drastically different than his career road splits (.310/.358/.494). Statcast™ shows that at least seven batted balls last season at Marlins Park would have been home runs at Citizens Bank Park. But it is more than just the distances from home plate to the walls at Marlins Park. MLB.com's Mike Petriello wrote last week that players simply do not hit the ball hard in Miami.
It could be the atmosphere there. It could be the batter's eye. It could be the baseballs.
It could be a combination of things.
"I can count too many times that I felt like I crushed a ball in Marlins Park only to watch Odúbel Herrera dive in center field and catch it at the wall," Realmuto said. "So it will be nice to get out of there and -- not that Citizens Bank Park is any slouch, you still have to hit the ball well, but it will be nice knowing if you get a ball you have a chance of getting it out. In Marlins Park sometimes you felt like you got it all of it and you were flying out to center field, not even getting a double out of it, you were running back to the dugout. So it will be nice to not have that situation."
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Realmuto can hit anywhere in the heart of the Phillies' lineup. It is impossible to say exactly where because the Phillies still could sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The Phillies remain in the hunt for both players.
Harper said last July that he wished the Nationals could acquire a player like Realmuto.
Realmuto feels the same way about Harper.
"Anybody would love to have a guy like that on your team," Realmuto said. "I would definitely love to have a player like that on this team."
It could happen. The expectations are the Phillies will sign one of the two superstars. Regardless, the Phillies are better with Realmuto, who is excited at the prospect of playing meaningful baseball late in August and September.
"This was a great ball club last year," Realmuto said about the Phillies. "Obviously they fizzled out a little at the end, but that comes with being a young club. The additions we've made this offseason, I feel like we have a lot of things to prove this season, and I think we're going to prove them."