12:36pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney writes that the Marlins’ asking price on Realmuto is viewed by other clubs as “staggering.” Though Realmuto has less control remaining than he did last offseason, he’s coming off a better year and the asking price on him has actually risen from last winter, per Olney.
9:54am: There are as many as 10 teams showing some degree of trade interest in Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, who also notes that Miami’s lofty asking price isn’t likely to drop anytime soon. The Astros are one of the many teams in the Realmuto market, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (Twitter links), but to this point they’ve insisted that either outfielder Kyle Tucker or right-hander Forrest Whitley be at the center of the return. Both players are considered to be among the 10 to 15 best prospects in all of baseball. Morosi adds that the Braves are “actively looking for a catcher,” but the Marlins would prefer not to deal Realmuto within the division.
Miami’s asking price in talks with the Astros somewhat mirrors their previous ask from the division-rival Nationals; Washington has been known to have interest in Realmuto for the past year, but reports have indicated that the starting point in any talks last winter was one of two prized young outfielders: Victor Robles or 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up Juan Soto. The Nats are reported to be on the lookout for a catcher themselves, but the continued high asking price and Miami’s reported preference to deal him away from the NL East are both working against that outcome. The same can be said of the Mets, who are also in the market for catching help this winter.
The Marlins’ hefty asking price in Realmuto negotiations is perfectly justified, as the 27-year-old has improved with each big league season since debuting in 2014 and is now, arguably, the best all-around catcher in baseball. A lower back injury shelved him for the first month of the 2018 season, but he returned with a flourish, batting .277/.340/.484 with a career-high 21 home runs, 30 doubles and three triples in 531 plate appearances. Realmuto also halted a whopping 38 percent of attempted stolen bases against him.
A trade of Realmuto shouldn’t be considered a foregone conclusion, however. While agent Jeff Berry of CAA Baseball recently made a point to publicly declare that Realmuto won’t sign an extension in Miami and that he expects a trade this winter, it should be noted that Berry and Realmuto requested a trade last winter on multiple occasions — only for Realmuto to remain in Miami. But Realmuto does have only two seasons of club control remaining before he hits free agency, and it’d be perfectly defensible to take the position that his trade value will never be higher than it is this offseason. He’s among the game’s best catchers, if not the premier catcher in MLB, and can be controlled for two seasons at a total rate of less than $20MM. He’s among the most valuable trade chips in all of baseball at present, and any package for him should begin with at least one elite prospect and/or a young big leaguer Miami can control for the next half decade or so.