11:15am: Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link), the Marlins say they understand the reasoning behind Realmuto’s desire to be traded (the same goes for Christian Yelich), given the scope of the team’s recent rebuilding efforts. However, the Marlins still do not have any intention to trade Realmuto at present, Nightengale adds.
10:51am: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that Realmuto does indeed want to be traded out of Miami.
10:46am: The Marlins haven’t been shy about blowing up the active roster, having traded away Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. Those trades, obviously, aren’t likely to sit well with the remaining talent on the roster, and it seems that catcher J.T. Realmuto can be counted among that camp. Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweets that Realmuto has requested a trade out of Miami; FanRag’s Jon Heyman, meanwhile, more softly suggests that Realmuto has simply told the team that he “wouldn’t mind” a trade of his own, given what has transpired in recent weeks (Twitter link).
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that one of the remaining top-tier young talents in Miami would, to whatever degree, express to the front office and ownership that he’s amenable to a trade (or, more strongly, that he would definitively like to be traded). The Marlins’ moves to shed payroll and the unlikeliness that the saved resources will be invested into the 2018 product leave little chance that the team will be competitive next year.
Realmuto, 26, might not be a household name but has quietly emerged as one of the better all-around catchers in the game over the past couple of seasons. In 1124 plate appearances dating back to Opening Day 2016, Realmuto has slashed .290/.337/.440 with 28 homers, 62 doubles, five triples and 20 stolen bases.
He’s also thrown out 33.7 percent of would-be base thieves — well above the league average of 27 percent — and in 2017 ranked as an above-average pitch framer (after a pair of negative seasons in that regard). Realmuto also ranked among the game’s best in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt, and Baseball Prospectus’ overall Fielding Runs Above Average metric pegged him as MLB’s sixth-best defensive catcher in 2017.
Realumuto’s value, though, goes well beyond the fact that he’s established himself as an above-average contributor on both sides of the ball. He’s also highly desirable from a contractual standpoint, as he’s entering his first offseason of arbitration eligibility and remains under team control through the 2020 season. Realmuto will turn 27 in March, so any team acquiring him would be acquiring three affordable years of his physical prime; he’s projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn an eminently affordable $4.2MM in 2018.
Heyman notes that the team’s response to Realmuto’s suggestion/request isn’t yet known. It’s worth noting that the Marlins are under no obligation to trade him even if he wants out. However, ticket sales in Miami already figure to be in the tank after their aggressive moves to pare back the payroll, and from a pure baseball standpoint, there’s an easy argument to be made that they should deal him now to continue adding young talent to what entered the offseason as perhaps baseball’s worst farm system. Three years of Realmuto should come with quite a bit of value even if there aren’t too many contending clubs in dire need of an everyday catcher. Speculatively, though, the Nationals, D-backs and Rockies are among the expected contenders that could use an upgrade behind the dish.