In the off-season, the Miami Marlins (again) decided to clean house. They traded away NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees (for what many believed amounted to nothing near the value of what he could have netted), Dee Gordon to the Mariners, Christian Yelich to the Brewers, and Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals.
So it was with some surprise that catcher JT Realmuto was not moved.
However, Miami is currently sitting at 17-29 and in an NL East Division that has gotten very tough and very fast, it doesn’t look like the Marlins are primed for any where but to remain in dead last. So now Realmuto has become one of the likely figures on the trade market.
Believe it or not, Realmuto may cost as much (if not more) than what it may take for Orioles star Manny Machado. Realmuto isn’t a free agent for another few years and has a pretty friendly contract. He is also having a great year at the plate which ups his value for sure. It would mean a key prospect in any move possible so we will look at the teams that are the likely landing spots for the Marlins catcher, should the Marlins move him.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: It’s still early but the Diamondbacks after a torrid start have all but collapsed in the NL West, going 1-10 in their last 11. A part of it is the rotation is a bit of a mess with Taijuan Walker out for the season and Robbie Ray on the DL as well. That said, Arizona’s pitching is not a major issue right now. And the biggest hiccup is behind the plate. Alex Avila has been a major flop behind the backstop hitting only .132 with 2 HR. And the guys behind him, Jeff Mathis and John Ryan Murphy are not necessarily world beaters either. And the rest of the lineup overall has struggled. Paul Goldschmidt has been way off and their best offensive hitter right now AJ Pollock is on the DL. ISSUES: Arizona’s farm is depleted. It would have to take a top prospect or even a current roster player with a lot of potential to make the move perhaps. Arizona desperately needs a hitter and one behind the plate, but I don’t know how it can work out.
COLORADO ROCKIES: Chris Iannetta was signed for 3 years this past off-season to A. Help out the rotation. B. Continue his “upward trend” from the year before of hitting 17 HR in just 89 games. However, neither one has come to fruition. Colorado ranks once again near the bottom of the NL in pitching stats (13th in ERA) and it’s back to those 9-8 pitcher’s duels it feels like. And Iannetta has not been as good as advertised (currently hitting .212 with 4 HR and a .682 OPS). It is feasible Colorado makes a move for Realmuto and then possibly move Iannetta to a team who probably could use a veteran catcher that could help a young rotation (Athletics?). ISSUES: Well, the Iannetta issue is key. I don’t think they would just give up on Iannetta after signing him to a 3-year contract. The Rockies have a good farm system so that isn’t a problem, but it is going to be if the rotation continues to struggle and Iannetta struggles as well, why keep him around?
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: The Angels are back. They are pretty strong throughout the lineup. And right now they have the best player (Trout), the best all-around shortstop (Simmons), the hottest Japanese import since Ichiro (Ohtani), and a slugger who when on fire, can launch them out of Yellowstone (Upton). However, there are some holes on the team, notably behind the plate. They have a few spots that need upgrading, but if there is one that they may need to look outside of the system, it has to be catcher. I am not sure if Martin Maldonado is a guy to rely on behind the plate or at the plate in October games. This would be a huge jolt to the Angels offense. ISSUES: Kole Calhoun in right field (a .401 OPS???? How is that possible???) and Ian Kinsler are black holes on the Angels and Albert Pujols is probably only 1/10th of what he was in his prime. They need things as well. And right now Maldonado isn’t as bad as those three I named.
MINNESOTA TWINS: Minnesota has gotten off to a very rough start after high expectations for the 2018 season. The good news however is that Cleveland is scuffling badly and it doesn’t have a feel like the Tribe has an immediate answer to turn it around. So by virtue of playing in the worst division in baseball, the Twins are in the mix here. Jason Castro is out for the season which I think was a huge blow to them. But they cannot rely on Bobby Wilson and Mitch Garver as the guys. The Twins pitching staff is a veteran bunch especially with Ervin Santana coming back in mid-June, but they need a guy to work with that group. I don’t see either one doing so. Realmuto would also be a welcomed addition with his bat as the Twins are near the bottom with most offensive categories. Adding on Minnesota has prospects so this could be a good fit for Realmuto here. ISSUES: Nothing overly major here for Minnesota. Any other major skid however could doom them, even being in the AL Central.
NEW YORK METS: Realmuto’s name has come up on more than a few occasions for the Mets with Travis d’Arnaud being lost for the year. He gives them a stability at catcher and another bat in the Mets lineup that desperately needs a bat. And the Mets and Marlins do business with each other despite being in the same division. So is it a near perfect fit for the Mets to grab Realmuto? Yes. ISSUES: The Mets farm is pretty weak. They’d have to get pretty shrewd unless they want to part with a top prospect. Or think of moving Michael Conforto, which I doubt will happen.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: The Athletics have been probably the American League’s best surprise so far (and a debate between them, the Pirates, and Braves for overall). And while Jonathan Lucroy has been a steady veteran presence, he is not putting up the same numbers. Oakland does have a growing farm so a trade wouldn’t be incredibly too hard. ISSUES: I don’t even think Billy Beane & Co. were expecting Oakland to be in the mix in the AL. But they are. Had the A’s been in the AL Central, they’d be running away with it. Unfortunately, Oakland is looking up at the Astros and Angels. Giving up some of the farm at this conjecture especially after trying to find a way to get a new ballpark would be pretty foolish. Doubt Oakland would happen.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: With the Phillies back to being competitive again, any top trade target will be linked to them. Manny Machado has been linked over & over, but so has Realmuto. Again, Philadelphia has the prospects. That’s not a problem. The Phillies and Marlins have both traded within the division time after time and with each other. That’s also not a problem. Give another bat to a good young Phillies lineup will really put pressure on the Braves, Mets, and Nationals as well as have a catcher who can help a rotation out. ISSUES: While it isn’t an issue of trading between divisional foes, the Phillies have a lot of very good prospects and seeing those guys hit against them or pitch against them over the years may give them some reluctance to make that trade. And I also think Philadelphia is fine with having Alfaro behind the plate though the numbers aren’t too great with his bat (.255, 4 HR. 698 OPS)
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Pretty much any team not named the Braves in the NL East is interested in Realmuto. And for good reason. The Mets have d’Arnaud done for the year. The Phillies have Jorge Alfaro, who may not be an ideal option this year. And the Nationals have the oft-injured Matt Wieters and have to rely on Pedro Severino. Adding Realmuto gives the Nationals a much needed bat and possible protection for Bryce Harper (despite having a .900+ OPS he’s only hitting .224, meaning they are not giving him anything to hit at all). And speaking of Bryce, Washington may be thinking in that mode of “now or never” with possibly Harper being in his last year. They’re a middle of the road franchise when it comes to a farm. If the Nationals are very serious, they may try to make a huge splash to propel them over the Phillies, Braves, and Mets in an NL East that has surprisingly caught up them. ISSUES: Like the other division rivals, there is no concerns of trading within the NL East, especially with the Marlins. It’s the always scary thought however if whatever key prospect the Mets, Phillies, or Nationals deal that they may come back to bite that team for years to come. And while this is a hypothetical situation is that if Bryce leaves the Nationals this off-season, while the team itself may not be bad, the franchise changes entirely. Does that mean the window will rapidly close? No, but it won’t be as wide as it has been, especially with Atlanta and Philadelphia putting out strong young talent. Making an “all-in” move like this may end up setting Washington back.
CLOUDY BALL: For some reason I think Realmuto ends up in Minnesota. The system is solid. They don’t have much in the competition in the AL Central. Plus, adding him would be a great jolt for the Twins and their fans, saying “okay, we’re really in this thing” and he can help out a good veteran rotation of Odorizzi, Lynn (who could really use the help), and Santana when he comes back with a good young arm in Berrios. If I chose one other team, it may be the Phillies because of them having better resources than the Mets or Nationals. But I think they may save those for Machado. Time will tell though.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat