Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto told reporters today that he’s had multiple conversations with president of baseball operations Michael Hill and manager Don Mattingly about whether or not he’ll be traded, but he hasn’t gotten a firm answer one way or the other (hat tip to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). He also said that he has not spoken with part-owner Derek Jeter directly about the subject. That Realmuto hasn’t gotten a firm answer is entirely unsurprising; he’s a valuable trade asset, and the team can’t guarantee that anyone will rise to meet their asking price. They’ve been fielding offers on him for quite some time, and the countdown to opening day has now dwindled to under two months. Realmuto, of course, has been vocal throughout the offseason in his desire to be traded to another club. It was reported that the backstop requested a trade out Miami as early as mid-December, at which point the Fish had already shipped out Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. Recent comments from his agent indicate that his stance hasn’t changed, and an arbitration defeat at Miami’s hands certainly won’t do anything to budge that stance.
A few other items out of Miami…
- Hill says that lefty Wei-Yin Chen has been cleared to throw, and projects to be in the Marlins’ rotation (h/t Joe Frisaro of MLB.com). Whether or not he’ll be ready for the start of the season is uncertain. The 32-year-old Chen missed the bulk of last season due to recurring elbow issues, and is owed $60MM through the 2020 season. If he can remain healthy, he’ll likely slot in as the number two starter behind Dan Straily.
- Hill also mentioned that Brad Ziegler is the team’s closer headed into spring training camp. Ziegler took over as the team’s closer last season following a trade of A.J. Ramos to the Mets, saving ten games for the club. His overall performance, however, left much to be desired; the soft-tosser’s 4.79 ERA isn’t indicative of a high-leverage reliever, and his 4.98 K/9 was the fourth-lowest among MLB relievers with at least 30 innings pitched. However, having Ziegler in a ninth-inning role will prevent young strikeout artists Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider from accruing saves that would otherwise boost their future arbitration raises.
- Mattingly has Derek Dietrich “penciled in” as the starting left fielder (h/t Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald). The rest of the outfield picture, however, is “wide open.” The Marlins, of course, traded their entire starting outfield from last season; Stanton, Ozuna and Christian Yelich will all suit up for other clubs, leaving the team with a significant void to fill. Count recent outfield acquisitions Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra among the players who will compete for those jobs in camp.
- Despite trade speculation earlier in the offseason, infielder Starlin Castro says he expects to be with the club come opening day (hat tip again to Jackson). The former Yankee adds that he is “happy to be here,” and is not looking to be traded now. Castro figures to open the season as the team’s second baseman. He put up a .300/.338/.454 slash line while playing for New York last season (good for a 110 wRC+), and chipped in a pair of stolen bases.