Despite some rather juicy rumors at the winter meetings earlier this offseason, All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto remains a member of the Miami Marlins. That is unlikely to last. Realmuto and his agent have made it pretty clear he has no interest in remaining with Miami long-term, and the sooner the Marlins trade him, the more they'll get in return.
This past season the 27-year-old Realmuto authored a .277/.340/.484 batting line with 30 doubles and 21 home runs in 125 games. Add in strong pitch-framing and defense, and he led all catchers with 4.3 WAR. Realmuto is under control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2020, so he's not a one-year rental. Trade for him now and you get two years of a top catcher.
It is no surprise then that many teams have been connected to Realmuto this offseason, some moreso than others. The Marlins have set a very high asking price, however, and, as a result, several teams went in another direction to address their catching needs. Check it out:
- Astros: Signed Robinson Chirinos to a one-year contract.
- Braves: Signed Brian McCann to a one-year contract to pair with Tyler Flowers.
- Mets: Signed Wilson Ramos to a two-year contract.
- Nationals: Traded for Yan Gomes and signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year contract.
The early returns from last offseason's fire sale are not good -- the Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna last winter and they currently have zero top 100 prospects according to MLB.com -- and there's some thought Miami has set the asking price so high for Realmuto because they don't want to screw up again. They may've overplayed their hand and pushed some teams away.
The Marlins don't have to trade Realmuto right now. They could keep him and look to trade him at the deadline or even next offseason. The downside is twofold. One, catcher is a dangerous position and Realmuto could get hurt, thus lowering his trade value. And two, the longer the Marlins wait to trade him, the less time his new team will have him, and the less they'd be willing to give up.
Given their bare bones roster and the fact they're in the early stages of a rebuild, trading Realmuto now makes the most sense for the Marlins, even if they have to budge off that high asking price. Trade him now and don't risk him losing value through injury or shorter team control. Look at what the Orioles got for Manny Machado compared to what they could've received a year ago, for example.
Since Realmuto remains with the Marlins and the market dynamics have changed over the last few weeks, this is as good a time as any to examine the market and figure out which teams most make sense for the All-Star catcher. In fact, let's rank all 30 teams as potential landing spots. Come with me, won't you?
|Hey, keeping Realmuto is an option. A bad one given the fact he won't sign long-term and the team is nowhere near contention, but it is an option.|
|Trading for Realmuto and reducing Yadier Molina's playing time just isn't going to happen. Not when Molina is still productive and owed $40 million the next two years. Right player at the wrong time, really. The Cardinals will need the 2019-20 version of Realmuto from 2021-22.|
|Is Realmuto better than Gomes and Suzuki? Yes, he is. Are the Nationals going to dedicate even more resources to the catcher position after adding those two when there are other roster needs to be addressed? No, they won't.|
|Not only are the Royals still very early in their rebuild, but they already have someone they consider a franchise catcher in Salvador Perez. You could definitely argue Kansas City should trade for Realmuto and flip Perez elsewhere. I just don't see it happening.|
|Realmuto is a special case because he is so young and so good that, even with only two years of team control remaining, rebuilding clubs could still be interested in acquiring him with the idea of signing him to a contract extension. The Orioles probably aren't one of those those teams. They're coming off a 115-loss season and have a very long way to go with their rebuild. Trading prospects for Realmuto doesn't make sense right now.|
|Nah. Not after trading away a solid catcher in Mike Zunino and not after tearing down most of their MLB roster. The Mariners could trade for Realmuto and sign him long-term, sure. I don't see them trading many of the prospects they acquired this winter to get him.|
|The Tigers are in a similar spot as the Orioles. They're early in their rebuild, and while there's something to be said for trading Realmuto and signing him long-term, Detroit doesn't appear to be in good position to make such a move. They're still a few years away from contention and should keep their prospects.|
|You know, trading for Realmuto and moving post-hip surgery Buster Posey to first base full-time isn't a terrible idea. The problem here is the Giants probably don't have the prospects to get Realmuto, and, even if they did, they'd need a lot more help to contend before he qualifies for free agency in two years.|
|The Pirates are reportedly open to trading Francisco Cervelli because they have the promising Elias Diaz ready to step in behind the plate. In a vacuum, yeah, trading for Realmuto and flipping Cervelli elsewhere makes sense. In reality, it's hard to see the Pirates doing it.|
|The Blue Jays have a good young catcher in Danny Jansen and it seems to me they're simply biding time until top prospects Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reach the big leagues and establish themselves as cornerstone types before seeking out complementary pieces. Realmuto would be a strong addition to the lineup. No doubt. It just seems to be Toronto is not ready -- or doesn't believe they're ready -- to make this sort of move right now.|
|Of all the American League rebuilding teams, the Rangers seem most likely to pull the "trade and extend" move with Realmuto to me. They have some building block players in Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, and Elvis Andrus, so they're not so early in their rebuild that Realmuto would be joining a Marlins-like situation. I still think the Rangers are more likely to stay the course than trade for Realmuto. Don't sleep on them though.|
|The Paul Goldschmidt trade confirmed the Diamondbacks are sellers, and, in that Goldschmidt trade, they acquired their catcher of the future in Carson Kelly. I like Kelly, but he's no Realmuto. It doesn't appear the D-Backs will be that bad in 2019. A trade would surprise me but I don't think it is completely off the table.|
|The Mets were a real good fit for Realmuto before the Ramos signing. Now it doesn't make much sense, if any. Ramos isn't far behind Realmuto on the "best catchers in baseball" list and they got him on a very reasonable contract. The Mets making smart moves? What a time to be alive.|
|The Yankees have been connected to Realmuto at times this winter though it never really made much sense. They're committed to Gary Sanchez, who a year ago was in the conversation for the best catcher in baseball, and is two years younger than Realmuto and has two extra years of control. Trading for Realmuto only to have him split time at catcher and DH (and first base?) with Sanchez wastes a ton of positional value.|
|How do the Cubs feel about Willson Contreras? His game took a step back last season, but it's not uncommon for a young catcher to experience a bump in the road, and sticking with him would be justifiable. The Cubs are looking to improve their offense, however, and Realmuto would be an upgrade behind the plate. Squint your eyes and you could see it happening. I don't think it will.|
|The Rays were reportedly poking around Realmuto at the Winter Meetings even after getting Mike Zunino from the Mariners. They could pair the two in a catcher/DH tandem, but that wastes a ton of positional value, and the Rays are not about wasting anything. Realmuto is a great catcher. At first base or DH, he would be just another guy. (Zunino would be even less than that.)|
|The Twins are an under-the-radar fit for Realmuto. Jason Castro is a nice player who is owed some money ($8 million in 2019), but he's coming off an injury and neither he nor backup Mitch Garver (nor fan favorite Willians Astudillo) should stand in the way of Realmuto. Minnesota could add Realmuto to their solid young position player core and try to make a run at the cost-cutting Indians in the AL Central.|
|The Reds were reportedly in the mix for Realmuto at the Winter Meetings and they've been connected to a lot of high-end players this winter. Corey Kluber, Yasiel Puig, so on and so forth. Cincinnati has a strong position player core (Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, etc.) and, in theory, Realmuto would help their pitching staff with his pitch-framing skills. The Reds may seem like an unlikely fit for Realmuto. I like their aggressiveness though and won't rule this out.|
|The White Sox are big game hunting this offseason. They're making runs at Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and have kicked the tires on several other big name free agents and trade chips. Chicago could swing a deal for Realmuto and try to sign him to a long-term extension. He'd held advance the rebuild, that's for sure.|
|Gosh, I love this. The Padres have several high-end prospects on the cusp of the big leagues (Francisco Mejia, Chris Paddack, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias), so it's not unreasonable to think they could contend soon. They also have an incredibly deep farm system, deep enough that they could trade prospects for Realmuto and still have plenty for their own roster. Trading for Realmuto and signing him long-term would be a sneaky excellent move for a Padres team that isn't far away from making noise in the National League.|
|The Red Sox already have three catchers on their MLB roster (Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez) but none of those guys are Realmuto. Boston is all-in right now. They're going for it again and a strong case can be made they should pursue Realmuto to put themselves in the best possible position to repeat as World Series champions in 2019. Would I call it likely? No. Would I call it impossible? No way.|
|Reports indicate the Braves are still keeping an eye on Realmuto even after signing Brian McCann. Realmuto would be an upgrade over McCann and the underrated Tyler Flowers, and with Atlanta transitioning to win-now mode, he could be a piece that puts them over the top. I wouldn't count the Braves out. Trading for Realmuto and flipping Flowers elsewhere is a possibility.|
|I'm surprised we haven't heard the Phillies involved in the Realmuto sweepstakes more this offseason. They're clearly looking to do something big -- the Phillies are in on Zach Britton in addition to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- and while young Jorge Alfaro is promising, I don't think you let him stand in the way of Realmuto. In fact, Realmuto could be a real nice mentor for Alfaro these next two years. I feel like we should be hearing more about the Phillies and Realmuto. There's a fit.|
|I think the Indians are a sneaky good spot for Realmuto. They've cleared up approximately $20 million in payroll with their recent moves, which included sending catcher Yan Gomes to the Nationals. MLB Trade Rumors projects Realmuto to make an incredibly reasonable $6.1 million in 2019 and fitting him into the budget now figures to be much easier following the Gomes trade, the Yonder Alonso trade, and the Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana salary shuffle trade.|
|The Angels and Realmuto would certainly qualify as a blockbuster. They have an opening behind the plate and desperately want to win before Mike Trout reaches free agency in two years. Realmuto's team control lines up perfectly with Trout's and he'd give the Halos an enormous upgrade over their current options behind the plate.|
|There haven't been many (any?) Rockies/Realmuto rumors this offseason and that's a surprise to me because the Rockies are contending and they have an opening behind the plate. Guys like Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters shouldn't stand in the way of someone like Realmuto. Things have been silent, but there is an obvious fit here, and I wouldn't sleep on Colorado coming out of nowhere to get a deal done.|
|Jonathan Lucroy remains a free agent and the Athletics have a great big hole behind the plate. . Why not trade more prospects to add Realmuto? The A's are well aware windows of contention can close quickly, especially when you're a small payroll team. Realmuto would improve their chances in 2019 and 2020 and help keep that window open a little longer. A sleeper team, for sure.|
|Even after signing Robinson Chirinos, the Astros remain a potential suitor for Realmuto. Backup Max Stassi should not stand in the way of a trade. The 'Stros could pair Realmuto with Chirinos and boast one of the top catching tandems in the game. Does the recent Michael Brantley signing make outfielder and top prospect Kyle Tucker expendable? I imagine he'd interest the Marlins as the centerpiece in a Realmuto trade.|
|The Manny Pina/Erik Kratz tandem got the Brewers to the NLCS last season, and while those guys did admirable work, Realmuto would be a significant upgrade. Milwaukee's window is about as open as it's going to get. They make a ton of sense for Realmuto. A ton.|
|The best and most obvious fit. Yasmani Grandal is a free agent and Austin Barnes is best used in moderation, plus catching prospects Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz need more time in the minors. And the Dodgers are very much trying to get over the hump and win a World Series. They have the prospects to trade and the need behind the plate, and Realmuto's two years of control line up perfectly with Smith's and Ruiz's timetable. Los Angeles is the clear No. 1 landing spot for Realmuto.|