The Astros may ultimately be the right team for Miami's All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto – if not now then perhaps later.
“We are not shopping Realmuto,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said by text.
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Indeed, there’s no evidence anything at all is going on now.
But ultimately, some believe the Astros are a better fit than the Nationals or any of the other teams that have been mentioned to this point. The Nats now have their eyes on former catcher Wilson Ramos, as we wrote here. Realmuto was their first choice but the price (Victor Robles plus) was deemed too high.
While the Nats and before that the Mets were connected to Realmuto – and both those teams could still make some sense – the indication now is that the Astros may be the team more willing than some others to give up what it takes to land Realmuto, who hails from neighboring Oklahoma.
It won’t necessarily be now (though Astros starter Brian McCann is currently out with a knee injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined a month more) but with McCann a free agent, and the Astros' system not deep in catchers, they could ultimately see catcher as their main need. Max Stassi has done a nice job in McCann’s absence, but they clearly less deep at the position than others.
Folks with Astros links suggest the team likes Realmuto and has checked in with the Marlins at some point, though most likely not since the winter.
They also may be most likely to meet the price, as the Nats have consistently been unwilling to part with Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom and the Mets are short in the prospect department. The Braves are another team seen as a possible fit for Realmuto, but they have played things conservatively since last year’s scandal, unrelated to the current regime. The Brewers and Red Sox are two more teams getting less than optimal offensive production from the position.
While Marlins people understand Realmuto’s value, as evidenced by the asking price and behind-the-scenes conversations, and some within the organization see the value of locking him up, there’s no evidence they have engaged in those sort of long-term discussions. That process probably isn't aided by Realmuto's suggestion last winter that a trade might be the way to go (though he hasn’t said a word about it all season).
The World Series champion Astros have a superb team, and they have few imperfections. They can probably cover left field in-house between Kyle Tucker, Tony Kemp and others, leaving closer and catching depth as their main areas of interest.
They also have the types of prospects that could entice the Marlins. Though Houston has been steadfast in its unwillingness to part with its top-two prospects — pitcher Forrest Whitley and first baseman Yordan Alvarez — their list is still pretty long.