The Padres have emerged as one of the more ardent trade suitors for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, and now Miami looks to have its eyes on one of San Diego’s young backstops. The Marlins want catching prospect Francisco Mejia included as part of the Padres’ offer for Realmuto, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link).
Mejia has already switched teams once in his brief pro career, coming to the Padres last summer as the return in the trade that sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to the Indians. The 23-year-old switch-hitter was a consensus top-20 prospect in the game last season, with Baseball Prospectus going as far as to rank Mejia as the sport’s fifth-best minor leaguer. He owns a career .293/.347/.452 slash line and 54 home runs over 2127 minor league plate appearances, and Mejia has also seen a bit of action at the MLB level, accumulating 76 PA with Cleveland and San Diego over the last two seasons.
Mejia saw a bit of work as a third baseman and corner outfielder in the minors, as the Tribe and Padres experimented with him at different positions given the presence of incumbent catchers (Yan Gomes, Austin Hedges) at the big league level. With Miami, however, Mejia clearly would be the Marlins’ long-term answer behind the plate as Realmuto’s replacement.
While Mejia is a logical target for the Marlins, he also stands out as something of an expendable piece for the Padres, despite his intriguing potential. Acquiring Realmuto would more than solidify their catching position, of course, particularly if the Padres were able to get Realmuto to agree to a contract extension before a trade (as Morosi mentioned in his earlier report). Mejia’s star potential at the MLB level gives him more trade value than Hedges, who has proven to be an outstanding defender with some pop in his bat, but hasn’t shown much overall hitting prowess over 921 career PA for San Diego.
Given that the Marlins are known to want a huge return for Realmuto, it’s likely that they have also asked San Diego about Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore and Luis Urias, though the Padres have reportedly been unwilling to move any of those top prospects. Even without those three involved, however, San Diego’s highly-touted farm system has so many interesting youngsters that the Padres could put together a tempting multi-prospect offer with Mejia as the headliner.