The Marlins are busy talking to teams about J.T. Realmuto, the de facto best catcher in the game. The Astros, Dodgers and Yankees are among many teams that have showed interest. Houston is seen as a possible destination, but as of Tuesday, Marlins people denied the Astro were in the lead.
The Astros are believed willing to include Kyle Tucker, who is the type of lefthanded hitter the Marlins like, but probably not top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley. The issue with the Yankees’ talks apparently is that they still hold Gary Sanchez in high enough regard that they have resisted offering other top pieces in a package with Sanchez. The Marlins, who are run by ex-Yankee types (Derek Jeter, Gary Denbo) seem to like Sanchez as well but are hoping for a major package for Realmuto.
Teams have complained about a big request for Realmuto, but after all, he is generally thought to be the best catcher in the game, and the free-agent catching list, while long with solid players, isn’t exactly stocked with stars. Not much has been written or said about this, but weeks ago the Marlins and Realmuto’s camp talked about a possible extension, and they were so far apart that a trade seems even likelier than before.
Realmuto is believed to have named a price, but like the team’s trade price, it was suitably high (he is after all the top catcher in the game). Sources suggested it was in the ballpark of Buster Posey’s old deal with the Giants, and even though the Marlins love Realmuto they would wish to draw a distinction with Posey, who had been an MVP and a multiple champion when he signed his $167 million extension.
Jeff Berry, whose reasons to predict a trade several weeks back seem clear now, after understanding that the sides made no progress to a contract, didn’t want to characterize or even discuss those talks since they lack relevancy at this point, calling them “old news.” It may not be that relevant either, as it is possible that Realmuto went high because he prefers a trade, which seems obvious.
Another person pointed out that while Posey was more accomplished (Realmuto made his first All-Star team and won his first Silver Slugger last year), the comparison is apples and oranges since Realmuto is only two years from free agency while Posey, as a super two at that time, was four years away.
In any case the Marlins are likely more amenable to trade now, which makes sense since no one sees them as a contender within the two years that remain for Realmuto. About half the teams could use Realmuto, and while the trio of teams most oft mentioned (Astros, Dodgers, Yankees) may be most likely, the reality is he could help just about anyone.
The Red Sox’ catching situation is solid defensively but Realmuto would make baseball’s best lineup even better (plus his old friend Andy Barkett is with Boston now as assistant hitting coach; he managed Realmuto in Double A); however, it is hard to see what the Red Sox could offer in the way of prospects and young players.
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.