Rumors

Marlins reportedly prefer to trade J.T. Realmuto outside of National League East



J.T. Realmuto will be one of the more interesting trade candidates to watch this offseason. (Ian D’Andrea)

The Miami Marlins unveiled two new logos Thursday afternoon. There’s a good chance that All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto won’t still be with the team when they begin wearing those jerseys in 2019. But perhaps it isn’t realistic to think that the 27-year-old will be traded to a contender in the National League East this offseason.

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are hesitant to trade Realmuto to a team in the same division they are building to be a competitor in:

 About half the teams could be seen as a landing spot for Realmuto, though the Marlins do seem to prefer not to trade him within the division.

Earlier this month, MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki reported that Phillies general manager Matt Klentak at least plans to inquire on Realmuto. Sirius XM‘s Craig Mish reported that the Atlanta Braves had made a “strong” offer for Realmuto, though Heyman denied that an offer has been made yet. Even if an offer is yet to be made, the Braves do make sense as a fit for Realmuto. And the Washington Nationals have been substantively connected to Realmuto for the better part of a year, so they figure to be heavily involved, with the potential loss of Bryce Harper perhaps making them more motivated to complete a deal.

It does stand to reason that the Marlins would prefer to trade Realmuto out of their own division. However, if the best offer comes from a team in the National League East, the Marlins – who have been heavily criticized for trading 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich for what is now seen as an underwhelming return – would be smart to jump at it. The Phillies, for example, could put together an interesting package centered around 25-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro and No. 2 overall pitching prospect Adonis Medina. Of course, the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers are among the contenders outside of the National League East that could also put together intriguing trade packages to land the Marlins star catcher.

Realmuto slashed .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs, 74 RBIs and a 4.8 fWAR in 2018, the highest fWAR mark that any catcher in baseball posted in 2018.  Realmuto also can’t become a free-agent until after the 2020 season, so any team that acquires him would have control of him for two full seasons.

Jeff Berry, Realmuto’s agent, predicted earlier in November that come next Spring Training, Realmuto won’t be a Marlin. He added that Marlins brass is aware that Realmuto has no plans to sign an extension to play in Miami past the 2020 season.

Whether or not it’s Realmuto, the Phillies figure to be connected to just about all available catchers this offseason. Wilson Ramos, who the team acquired prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, looks increasingly likely to depart in free-agency. Alfaro, a key piece in the return from the Texas Rangers in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade, likely will be the Opening Day starter in 2019, though despite great raw tools, he hasn’t cemented himself as the Phillies long-term backstop. Andrew Knapp, meanwhile, had eight errors and six passed balls in less than 400 innings behind the plate, so the Phillies will likely make an external upgrade at the backup catcher’s position.

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