Hot Stove: Marlins' J.T. Realmuto requests trade; here are potential landing spots
Could catcher J.T. Realmuto be the next Miami player to be traded?
This offseason has already given us Marlins trades of All-Star outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in addition to second baseman Dee Gordon. There are contradictory reports floating out there regarding their other incumbent outfielder, Christian Yelich. Why not add another quality young player to the mix in catcher J.T. Realmuto:
It was bound to happen. They are stripping the team down. Any player with good big-league value and any competitive fire would rather be playing somewhere with a chance to win.
Realmuto is heading into his age-27 season and under team control through 2020. He hit .278/.332/.451 (109 OPS+) with 31 doubles, five triples, 17 homers and 65 RBI last season. He also threw out 32 percent of attempted base-stealers last season, which is five percent above league average. He was one of the worst in baseball at framing, according to the available metrics, but overall we're talking about a very good catcher.
Most teams should have interest in Realmuto, but here are some of the top landing spots that come to mind -- including three NL East division mates. (These are ordered alphabetically, not ranked or anything like that)
|The D-Backs right now have three options at catcher in Jeff Mathis , John Ryan Murphy and Chris Herrmann. Realmuto is no Mathis with the glove, but he's by far the best all-around player of this group and would really help the offense mitigate some of the likely loss of J.D. Martinez. And if Martinez returns in addition to the Snakes grabbing Realmuto, even better. Realmuto probably hits sixth or so in that case, and that's a very solid lineup.|
|Yes, the champs have Brian McCann and Evan Gattis as options behind the plate, but both can be free agents after 2018 (McCann has a $15 million club option). Realmuto covers the future and make the present better. Maybe McCann and Gattis end up platooning in a DH role while McCann occasionally spells Realmuto behind the plate. I really like this fit.|
|Incumbent starter Martin Maldonado is a superb defender, but he's not much at all with the bat. These two could end up being a pretty nice tandem for a contending Angels ballclub. We've already seen general manager Billy Eppler play aggressively this offseason, so why stop now?|
|After a surprise wild card berth, the Twins are looking to supplement their talented young, position-player core. We've heard this offseason they're aggressively pursuing top-flight pitching in free agency, for example. Realmuto is a pretty big upgrade over Jason Castro . Castro is signed through 2019, but he's probably better suited to be the No. 2 catcher than to carry the load.|
|The Mets seem content to stick with the Travis d'Arnaud/Kevin Plawecki combo behind the plate. They also seem content to not make any sort of splash this offseason, so perhaps I should have not listed them. It just feels like a good fit here. Realmuto would definitely be an upgrade.|
|The Phillies have been aggressive this offseason in upgrading their roster, perhaps in hopes to make it a franchise desirable enough to land a big fish in free agency next offseason. The current catching duo in Philly is Jorge Alfaro and Cameron Rupp . Alfaro was a highly-touted prospect and hit .318/.360/.514 in 114 plate appearances last season, so perhaps they'll continue to focus their efforts elsewhere. I'm not interested in ignoring them, however. Not now.|
|General manager Jon Daniels is always willing to talk about notable trade possibilities. The starting catcher, as things stand, in Texas is Robinson Chirinos and he's definitely not bad. Realmuto is better, though, and Chirinos would make an outstanding second catcher.|
|Matt Wieters is still under contract for one more year, but he was brutal last year. He slashed .225/.288/.344 (63 OPS+), was below average at throwing out runners, scored terribly in framing metrics and posted a negative WAR. The Nats have only one more guaranteed season with Bryce Harper , so any upgrades should be strongly pursued. This is probably the best fit, all circumstances considered.|
If the Marlins do indeed put Realmuto on the market, he's easily the top name available among backstops. The top remaining free agents are Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila. No one else left is a viable number one catcher, and even Avila should probably be a backup if we're talking about playing on a contender.
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