The market for star Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto seems to be reaching a fever pitch, with the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, Mets and Giants among the latest teams to “show interest,” says Fancred’s Jon Heyman. The odds of an extension for the backstop seem infinitesimal at this juncture, with sources “suggesting” that the proposed figure was in range of the massive extension signed by Giants catcher Buster Posey prior to the start of the 2013 season. Whether or not the ask was mere posturing on the part of Realmuto, whose agent Jeff Berry seemed to make clear the 27-year-old’s intentions on a radio show in late October, is unknown, but it seems a near certainty the Oklahoma-born product will be moved at some point this offseason.
In other news from around the region . . .
- Per Heyman, the Yankees seem to be willing to include Gary Sanchez in a deal for Realmuto, but only in something approximating a straight-up swap. Sanchez, who has four remaining years of team control to Realmuto’s two, has turned off some admirers with his indifferent play behind the plate and propensity for the long slump, but is nevertheless an extremely valuable asset in today’s desiccated offensive landscape behind the dish. Indeed, Steamer actually projects the 26-year-old Sanchez to be nearly as valuable next season as the elder Realmuto (3.5 WAR, to the latter’s 3.7), pegging him for a 116 wRC+ to Realmuto’s 108. It should be noted, too, that analytical models are far more bullish on Sanchez’s much-maligned defense than the general public: DRS, after all, sees Sanchez as clearly superior to the Marlin star over the last three seasons, while Baseball Prospectus, though higher on Realmuto, mostly agrees, seeing the Dominican-born backstop as generally above-average over the same frame. The Marlins, though, seem to find the package insufficient without other “top pieces” involved, which scenario would almost surely be a non-starter for the Bombers.
- Outfielder Nick Markakis “remains a candidate” to return to Atlanta, and is a “more likely fit” than Michael Brantley, per Heyman. Markakis, a Georgia native, enjoyed a blissful ’18 renaissance in the last year of his 4 year, $44MM deal signed prior the 2015 season, slashing .297/.366/.440 in hitter-friendly SunTrust Park on the way to 2.6 fWAR, his first two-win-plus season with the Braves. Atlanta, of course, continues its search for offensive upgrades even after the inking of Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal, but doesn’t see outfielder A.J. Pollock as a likely target, according to Heyman. The 35-year-old Markakis, though, had posted five consecutive sub-.400 slugging percentage seasons before the last, and has never been a particularly nimble defender in a corner. Atlanta, at this point in the offseason, may be setting its sights a little higher in its dogged pursuit of an outfielder.
- Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are “considering high-end upgrades” across the diamond. Topkin lists Noah Syndergaard, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nelson Cruz, among others, as potential options, and notes that the team’s monetary resources far outshine those of past seasons. The Rays, perhaps more than any other team, are rife with young talent, with logjams up the middle and on the corners, and have considerable prospect capital with which to deal, so multiple major upgrades cannot, at this point in the offseason, be ruled out.