'Significant interest' in Realmuto at Winter Mtgs

December 11th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Day 1 of the Winter Meetings went pretty much as expected for the Marlins. The organization spent much of the first full day measuring trade interest in All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
There's no shortage of clubs in the mix for arguably the best catcher in the sport.
"There's interest," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "There's significant interest."
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Exactly how many clubs have been in contact was not revealed, but as of Sunday, it was at least 14.
One rumor that materialized late Monday involved a three-team trade. MLB.com's Bryan Hoch confirmed that a deal has been discussed in which Realmuto would go to the Mets and would be shipped crosstown to the Yankees. The deal is is regarded as more of a long-shot scenario with multiple teams still in the mix.
Hill did note that resolving the Realmuto saga is consuming much of Miami's attention.
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"He is a good player. He's an All-Star catcher," Hill said. "We love him. He's a guy we drafted, we signed him, we've developed him. We got him to the big leagues. Made him an All-Star. He's a good player."
Drafted by the Marlins in the third round in 2010, Realmuto has flourished into one of the best catchers in the Majors. The 27-year-old hit .277 and had career highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (74) on a team that finished last in MLB in runs scored and homers.
Realmuto is entering his second season of arbitration, and isn't eligible for free agency until 2021. But his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, has expressed his client has no interest in a contract extension with Miami.
The Marlins don't feel the urgency to trade Realmuto, and their asking price is high. But if an offer is too tempting to pass up, they will consider it.
The Dodgers, Braves, Astros and Phillies are also among the clubs vying for Realmuto's services.
"Lots of conversations," Hill said. "We'll see how things progress. The goal remains the same: we're trying to get better. Not just short-term, but long-term."
Among the many factors the Marlins are weighing is, if Realmuto is dealt, who would replace him?
Miami is building around a core of young pitchers, and is seeking a catcher who can help their development.
, who is on the 40-man roster, and , Realmuto's primary backup, are the alternatives. But Holaday is signed to a Minor League contract and will be a non-roster invitee in Spring Training. So there is no guarantee he will win a job.
"I think you have to look into all of that," Hill said. "That's part of this process that you work through. The trades that we've made, we've brought back over 18 pitchers. The success of our pitching is really going to impact our overall organizational success.
"You want to make sure, no matter what happens, that you're covering an important part of your club. And you have a person who is going to take care of your pitchers, as you continue to build and your pitchers continue to mature, and turn into the championship pieces we think they can be."
The Marlins' asking price remains high for Realmuto. The club is seeking a top prospect and more.
"I think teams have more clarity," Hill said. "When we first met in the GM Meetings [in November], it was still early in the process of teams determining what they wanted to do, and where they potentially thought there may be a fit.
"I think as we got to Vegas, there is clarity to what they want to get accomplished. So now it's just a matter to see if there are fits."
Worth noting
• With their roster at 40, the Marlins will have to make at least one move to be able to participate in Thursday's MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The team is expected to clear roster space.
"If there is an opportunity to add a piece we think can help us, we will explore it," Hill said. "We're at 40 on the roster. But there will probably be some roster movement before Thursday."
• Infielder has been playing winter ball in his native country, Venezuela. Rojas is expected to be through playing on Wednesday.
• Prospect , who is playing third base in winter ball in Puerto Rico, still projects at the Marlins' second baseman of the future.