Recently in an interview on MLB Network, catcher JT Realmuto’s agent Jeff Berry states that the 27-year-old catcher had no desire to stay with the Marlins and will “definitely be wearing a different uniform by the start of spring training.” With an .825 OPS, a 4.3 WAR, his three years of control and the fact that quality catchers are hard to come by, Realmuto will be the most coveted player on the trade market. Let’s look at each possible suitor for Realmuto, analyzing the fit and speculating a trade for him.
Boston Red Sox
The defending champion Red Sox could just sit back. After all, they won 108 games and were practically unbeatable throughout the playoffs. The more appealing alternative however, may to continue to improve the team in a quest to go back to back. If the choose the latter option, upgrading at catcher would be one of their priorities. Their top two catchers, Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez averaged a .526 OPS and had a combined -1.3 WAR, so no team would receieve a greater upgrade behind the dish with the acquisition of Realmuto than the Red Sox. Unfortunately for Boston, they only have two top 100 prospects, according to MLB.Com, so a trade for Realmuto is unlikely.
Trade: Red Sox acquire Realmuto in exchange for 3B Michael Chavis (BOS #1), LHP Jay Groome (BOS #2),LHP Darwinzon Hernandez (BOS #8), OF Cole Brannen (BOS #19)
Fit: 9.8/10 Need: 9.6/10 Chance it Happens: 3/10
New York Mets
Some may argue that the aging Mets need to rebuild, and they probably should. However, newly hired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made it clear in his introductory press conference that the Mets will try to contend in 2019. If that’s the case, they need to fix the catcher position. New York catchers had just a .592 OPS last year, and the Mets ranked 22nd in catcher WAR, according to Baseball Reference. A trade for Realmuto would be the type of splash that Van Wagenen needs to gain the trust of Mets fans and fulfill his promise of contending next season. This may not be enough for the Mets to indeed contend, but Realmuto would instantly become their best hitter and would help them build around their stacked starting rotation. The need for him is obvious, but New York has a farm system outside of their top four prospects, so a trade for Realmuto would completely gut their farm system.
Trade: Mets acquire Realmuto in exchange for SS Andres Gimenez (NYM#1), OF Jarred Kelenic (NYM#3), 3B Mark Vientos (NYM #10), C Francisco Alvarez (NYM #15)
Fit: 8.6/10 Need: 9/10 Chance it Happens: 3.5/10
The Braves surprised everyone in 2018, going 90-72 and winning the NL East. However, they were clearly overmatched in their NLDS loss to the Dodgers, and need to continue to upgrade their team to be a true World Series contender. Braves catchers ranked 9th in WAR, according to Baseball Reference, but that position can still be upgrade. Atlanta relied on a platoon of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers behind the dish, but Suzuki is a free agent and Flowers had an uninspiring .227/.341/.359 slash line. Flowers is also 32, and clearly isn’t the long-term answer nor is anyone in the Braves farm system. Atlanta is stacked with young pitching prospects, so they could be fine with trading 2-3 of them to get their short-term and long-term answer behind the dish. They have the prospects to make it happen and the need, so this definitely one of the more likely suitors for Realmuto.
Trade: Braves acquire Realmuto in exchange for RHP Kyle Wright (ATL #2), RHP Ian Anderson (ATL #3), OF Drew Waters (ATL #8)
Fit: 9.2/10 Need: 8.7/10 Chance it Happens: 8.5/10
The Phillies seem to have their long-term answer at catcher with Jorge Alfaro, who is just 25 years old and had a respectable .262/.324/.407 slash line to go along with a cannon arm. However, Todd Zolecki of MLB.Com says the Phillies are likely to check in on Realmuto, so a trade is possible. Realmuto is by far a more complete player than Alfaro, and is just two years older. They’re a much better team now and for the future with Realmuto inserted behind the dish rather than Alfaro. However, a trade for Realmuto would likely cost them their top prospect in pitcher Sixto Sanchez. That raises the question: are the Phillies better off with Alfaro and trading for bigger needs such as third base or the bullpen? The answer to that question is probably yes, but Realmuto would give the Phillies a lethal lineup, especially if they are able to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in free agency. They then can use Alfaro in this trade to save prospects or can use Alfaro to trade for some bullpen help. This free agent class also has a lot of good relievers though, so Philadelphia can simply trade for Realmuto and sign a reliever such as Adam Ottavino. The latter option seems like the more appealing option, and the Phillies have a good enough farm system to have a legitimate chance of winning the sweepstakes.
Trade: Phillies acquire Realmuto in exchange for RHP Sixto Sanchez (PHI #1), OF Adam Haseley (PHI #4), OF Mickey Moniak (PHI #6), LHP Ranger Suarez (PHI #8)
Fit: 8.3/10 Need: 7.9/10 Chance it Happens: 7.5/10
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers just lost their second straight World Series, and need to make a splash in order to finally get over the hump and win it all. In order to do that, they need to fix their current issue behind the plate. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is coming off a horrid postseason and just declined the qualifying offer, so he looks to be on his way out. That would leave them with Austin Barnes as their best option, but his uninspiring .619 OPS last season suggests that he isn’t the answer. Realmuto would be the answer. He would boost their lineup and could be inserted into the top of the order. His speed also gives him more flexibility to hit at different spots in the order or play different positions if needed, which is something the Dodgers value. The only problem with the acquisition of Realmuto is that the Dodgers have two young catchers in the minors in Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz, so they may not need Realmuto to be their long-term option. A short team option such as Wilson Ramos may make more sense, or they could package those catchers to land Realmuto.
Trade: Dodgers acquire Realmuto in exchange for C Keibert Ruiz (LAD 2), RHP Dustin May (LAD 3), RHP Dennis Santana (LAD 6)
Fit: 8.7/10 Need: 7.9/10 Chance it Happens: 8.1/10
During last Spring Training, the Astros and Marlins had deep discussions on a possible Realmuto trade. The problem was that they were unwilling to give up their top position player prospect Kyle Tucker nor their top pitching prospect Forest Whitley. However, they currently don’t have a Major League ready catcher on their roster and are in desperate need for an answer behind the dish. Furthermore, Tucker struggled to adjust to the majors, with just a .439 OPS this season. Houston needs to capitalize on their young players being controlled and make a splash, as their window may be closing sooner that we anticipate with key players George Springer and Carlos Correa within striking distance of free agency. Houston also doesn’t have their long-term answer at catcher in their farm system, so this benefits them in the short-term and long-term. They pretty much are sacrificing an unproven player in the outfield for a proven All Star in his prime playing arguably the most important position. They definitely make the most sense for a Realmuto trade, and have the prospects to make this trade happen.
Trade: Astros acquire Realmuto in exchange for OF Kyle Tucker (HOU 1), LHP Cionel Perez (HOU 5), RHP JB Bukauskas (HOU 8), C Garret Stubbs (HOU 15)
Fit: 9.2/10 Need: 9.7/10 Chance it Happens: 8.8/10
The Nationals had serious interest in Realmuto at last season’s trade deadline, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.Com, but they balked on Miami’s high asking price of top prospect Victor Robles. Well, after National catchers had a negative 0.4 WAR, Washington may be willing to reconsider. The chanceof this trade happening all comes down to the free agency of Bryce Harper. If Harper were to leave, Robles would likely have to fill in for him in the outfield. If he resigns, then Robles is expendable. If they want to get back to the playoff next season after failing to do so this year, the Nationals need Realmuto. He’d balance out a lineup that is extremely top-heavy and give Washington stability behind the plate. There is not be a team with a bigger need for Realmuto, nor is there a team that is a better fit for him. However, Washington may have to give up Robles, as their farm system is weak after him.
Trade: Nationals acquire Realmuto in exchange for OF Victor Robles (1), RHP Mason Denaburg (4), SS Yasel Antuna (8)
Fit: 9.5/10 Need: 9.8/10 Chance it Happens: 8/10
The Rockies also got awful production from their catchers still season, as Rockies catchers had a negative 0.3 WAR. Colorado was able to win the NL Wild Card Game, but they got swept in the NLDS by the Brewers. Considering Nolan Arenado is a free agent next season and will be in line for a $400 million contract, it’s now or never for the Rockies to make a World Series push. The short-term need is there, but is Colorado willing to make such a splash with so much long-term uncertainty? Realmuto would give the Rockies a major upgrade behind the dish and would help them compensate for the inevitable loss of second baseman DJ LeMahieu by filling in at the top of the order. Furthermore, Miami will surely ask for top prospect Brendan Rodgers in any trade for Realmuto. Due to the loss of LeMahieu, Rodgers needs to fill in at second base and is the Rockies only prospect in the upper half in the prospect rankings of MLB.Com. Making this trade could gut their future, even if Realmuto could be a long-term building block. It’s for the best if the Rockies pass on a trade for Realmuto and pursue a catcher at a lower price such as free agent Wilson Ramos.
Trade: Rockies acquire Realmuto in exchange for IF Brendan Rodgers (1), RHP Riley Pint (5), 1B/3B Tyler Nevin (11)
Fit: 8/10 Need: 7.5/10 Chance it Happens: 6/10
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have the game’s best player in Mike Trout and rookie of the year two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani. However, the talent outside those two is thin, and the Angels need to make upgrades at several positions in order to improve on their 80-82 record. Angels catchers had a 1.2 WAR last season, but most of that came from Martin Maldonado, who they traded to the Astros at the trade deadline. They could bring back Maldonado, or they could make a big splash and acquire Realmuto. Realmuto would Trout some protection in the lineup, or could be inserted right before him. If so, could you imagine the amount of pitches he’ll get to hit with Trout hitting behind him. That makes the Angels a great fit for Realmuto, and he helps them contend. However, unless they’re willing to spend big money on pitching, the Angels are still a fringe contender at best. If they are going to make a big splash on the trade market and cough of top prospect Jo Adell, Realmuto is the player they should trade for.
Trade: Angels acquire Realmuto in exchange for OF Jo Adell (1), 2B Jahmai Jones (4), SS Kevin Maitan (7), and RHP Stiward Aquino (21)
Fit: 9.7/10 Need: 8.9/10 Chance it Happens: 6.8/10
The Brewers got within one game of the World Series, but they definitely need to make upgrades at key positions in order to take the step and continue to get their upper hand of the divisional rival Cubs and Cardinals. Many will point to starting pitching as their biggest weakness, and it’s true that they should sign at least one free agent to fill out the rotation. However, with the emergence of prospects Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burners, Milwaukee may be set in the rotation. They should instead turn their attention to guy catching for this pitchers, and make a big upgrade behind the dish. The duo of Erik Kratz and Manny Pina was serviceable, but their 1.0 WAR left a lot to be desired. It became clear that their spot in the lineup was the weak link of the Brewers lineup, one that allowed pitchers to pitch around some of their key hitters. Realmuto could be inserted right behind 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich in the 3rd spot of the lineup, giving Millwaukee a lethal top of the lineup. He’d also give the Brewers a stable option at catcher, which will be extremely helpful in developing those young pitchers in the rotation. The Brewers farm system isn’t strong, but they probably have just enough assets to make a deal. If the opportunity comes, Millwaukee should pounce on it and acquire the player who could be the difference maker in them winning the World Series.
Trade: Brewers acquired Realmuto in exchange for 2B Keston Huira (1), 3B Lucas Erceg (4), OF Tristen Lutz (5), RHP Caden Lemons (4)
Fit: 8.9/10 Need: 9/10 Chance it Happens: 7.8/10
Now, let’s take a look at how each of these teams rank in their need for Realmuto, his fit his the team, and the chance they actually are able to acquire him.
- Boston Red Sox (9.8/10)
- Los Angeles Angels (9.7/10)
- Washington Nationals (9.5/10)
- Houston Astros (9.2/10)
- Atlanta Braves (9.2/10)
- Milwaukee Brewers (8.9/10)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (8.7/10)
- New York Mets (8.6/10)
- Philadelphia Phillies (8.3/10)
- Colorado Rockies (8/10)
- Washington Nationals (9.8/10)
- Houston Astros (9.7/10)
- Boston Red Sox (9.6/10)
- Milwaukee Brewers (9/10)
- New York Mets (9/10)
- Los Angeles Angels (8.9/10)
- Atlanta Braves (8.6/10)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (7.9/10)
- Philadelphia Phillies (7.9/10)
- Colorado Rockies (7.5/10)
Chance it Happens:
- Houston Astros (8.8/10)
- Atlanta Braves (8.5/10)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (8.1/10)
- Washington Nationals (8/10)
- Milwaukee Brewers (7.9/10)
- Philadelphia Phillies (7.5/10)
- Los Angeles Angels (6.8/10)
- Colorado Rockies (6/10)
- New York Mets (3.5/10)
- Boston Red Sox (3/10)
After examining Realmuto’s fit with all of the top players in his trade market, the two best teams for him to be traded to are the Astros and the Nationals. However, since the Marlins are hesitant to trade Realmuto in the division, the Astros are the best landing spot for him.