WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Nationals, long interested in Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, could “revisit” that pursuit, league sources said. The development comes a week after the Nats appeared to shift their focus on shoring up the catcher position to former National turned Rays All-Star Wilson Ramos.
The Nationals, who checked in with the Marlins several weeks back, have been looking to upgrade their catching situation as they struggle to play to expectations in the surprising NL East. Some think they might consider including top outfield prospect Victor Robles in a package for Realmuto. If true — and that’s unconfirmed— that might change the Marlins' willingness to move the newly-minted All-Star backstop.
The Marlins have long sought Robles and/or infield prospect Carter Kieboom in talks. The Nats reached out several weeks back, but at the time they wouldn’t budge on either Robles or Kieboom.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, while saying they view no one as untouchable in their rebuild, asserted its “very unlikely” Realmuto goes anywhere.
The Nats had been connected to their former catcher Wilson Ramos, but he is on the DL after suffering a hamstring injury Saturday. The Nats have gotten very little production at catcher this year, though veteran Matt Wieters just returned.
Robles, a speedy center fielder, is just the sort of prospect the Marlins need. He’s been out this year with an elbow injury, and recently started his rehab process. Robles was ranked as a top-five prospect in all of baseball before the season by Baseball America.
Realmuto is in the midst of the best season of his young career. He enters the All-Star break batting .310 with a .539 slugging percentage, both career bests. He also already has 12 home runs and 44 RBI; his best single-season mark in those categories is 17 and 65, respectively (for the full 2017 campaign).
While the Marlins have emphasized how important Realmuto is to their rebuild — “We are not shopping Realmuto,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill previously told Fancred by text — it's also true that Realmuto suggested a trade might be in the best interest of all parties during the Marlins' talent sell-off last winter.
The Astros have been connected with Realmuto — at least here — as well. The depth of Houston's minor league system makes it a strong contender for the catcher as well. Only Hill and the Marlins know if they would prefer Robles, Kieboom and/or other Nats prospects, or whichever gems they could pry from the Astros.
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.