The Marlins are telling folks they’d love to lock up star catcher J.T. Realmuto. And while that’s a worthwhile goal, barring something unprecedented that would seem to be a long shot. While Realmuto politely and professionally told us at the All-Star Game he’s open to listening to what they have to say — sure, why not? — people around the team seem to understand it’d be a steep uphill battle to convince him to stay beyond 2020.
Realmuto quietly requested a trade last winter but has said nothing along those lines once he got to camp. However, that is very likely because he’s that sort of a person; he's focused on winning.
The problem is this: The timing between player and team seems to be a tough fit. They would appear to be two years from serious competition, which just so happens to be when Realmuto is eligible for free agency.
Marlins people aren’t suggesting they’ll trade him if they are unable to sign him — they love the way he handles their young pitchers and suggest they’d like to have him help develop them, which is indeed a real consideration — but realistically, a trade may be the most logical result. Along those lines, here are teams that make the most sense:
1) Nationals: They have been trying for Realmuto for more than a year now, and
after first holding top outfield prospect Victor Robles out of talks,
they recently offered Robles (along with others, though the others
weren’t what the Marlins were looking for). Miami has been steady in
their request for top shortstop prospect Carter Kieboom to be included
with Robles, and for this type of catching talent, it’s hard to blame
2) Astros: They wouldn’t seem to have an obvious starting replacement for
free agent Brian McCann, and certainly have the prospects to get
something done. Realmuto is from neighboring Oklahoma, another plus.
3) Yankees: The questions about Gary Sanchez’s defense are growing, and he
could be part of a package for Realmuto. The Marlins, headed by Yankees
icon Derek Jeter, and Yankees, have done big deals before (Giancarlo Stanton comes to mind).
4) Braves: The Braves have a prospect list to match or even beat the Yankees, and while they have effectively and efficiently employed a combo of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki at catcher, Realmuto would represent a major upgrade.
Will any of these teams part with the prospects needed to sway Jeter and the Marlins front office? We'll find out in the coming months.
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball
insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on
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