Now that Yasmani Grandal has agreed to terms with the Brewers, the Marlins are ramping up trade talks surrounding J.T. Realmuto and are in “substantive discussions” with six teams, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro pegs the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Rays, Padres and Reds as the six teams still in the mix for Realmuto. Frisaro further tweets that the Dodgers “may be [the] most motivated” to land Realmuto of the six current suitors.
As one would expect, the report indicates that Miami’s asking price remains extremely high — at least one elite prospect and, in some cases, a big league catcher with some MLB experience already under his belt. For the six clubs in question, the Dodgers (Austin Barnes), Astros (Max Stassi), Padres (Austin Hedges) and Rays (Michael Perez) would best fit that billing. The Reds, too, have Tucker Barnhart as a catcher with MLB experience, though he’s signed through 2021 (plus a 2022 option) as part of a $16MM extension. He’s previously been rumored as a potential piece in talks with the Marlins, but while his salary isn’t exactly prohibitive, it’d be more logical to see Miami pursue younger, pre-arbitration options who are not yet eligible for arbitration. None of the aforementioned catchers, of course, would be a centerpiece to the deal but could give the Marlins a near-term replacement while they hope for higher-end talent to emerge from their system.
When and whether anything more significant comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the timing of the report certainly makes sense. Now that Grandal is no longer an option for teams around the league who are in the market for a catcher, the Marlins can legitimately pitch Realmuto as the primary difference-maker available. As shown in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker, light-hitting defensive specialist Martin Maldonado is the top remaining free agent. Pirates backstop Francisco Cervelli is an option on the trade market, but he’s earning north of $11MM next season, would be a one-year rental and has some concerning recent issues with concussions.
All six of the rumored suitors have deep farm systems that also feature high-end talent, with each of the bunch possessing multiple prospects currently ranked among the game’s 50 best minor leaguers (per both MLB.com and Fangraphs). However, teams throughout the league are increasingly reluctant to part with top-tier minor league talent — particularly when the prospective trade partner is also seeking a controllable MLB-level asset in return, as the Marlins appear to be doing in Realmuto discussions.