MIAMI -- With a little more than a week until the Winter Meetings get underway in Las Vegas, J.T. Realmuto trade rumblings are gaining steam. But has any significant progress been made to get a deal done?The latest comes from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in a report on Fancred
MIAMI -- With a little more than a week until the Winter Meetings get underway in Las Vegas, J.T. Realmuto trade rumblings are gaining steam. But has any significant progress been made to get a deal done?
The latest comes from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in a report on Fancred Sports. Heyman lists the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees as possible landing spots for the Marlins' All-Star catcher, and he adds that the 27-year-old is seeking an extension similar to Buster Posey's contract (eight years, $154 million) with the Giants signed in March 2013.
There is no shortage of speculation as to how the Realmuto sweepstakes may play out. The storyline should intensify leading up to and during the Winter Meetings, which begin on Dec. 9.
To help sort through the Realmuto saga, MLB.com addresses several frequently asked questions:
How many clubs are interested?
Heyman's report confirms previous ones that also noted the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees. Since the General Managers Meetings held in early November in Carlsbad, Calif., MLB.com confirmed that at least eight to 10 clubs (perhaps more by now) had expressed some level of interest. The Braves and Nationals were among the group, though each club has signed a veteran free-agent catcher in recent weeks. Atlanta brought back Brian McCann, and Kurt Suzuki, previously, with the Braves, signed with the Nationals. The Mets and even Giants -- per Heyman -- checked in.
Is the asking price too high?
According to those in the industry, Miami is seeking a huge haul. Many believe the demands will have to lower to get a deal done. That said, MLB.com has learned that the Marlins are not budging from asking for a club's top prospect, and more. In a recent story for The Athletic, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Marlins asked for second baseman Ozzie Albies to be part of the package from the Braves.
Heyman's report noted that the Astros are willing to include Kyle Tucker, MLB Pipeline's No. 5 overall prospect, for Realmuto. If this is the case, Houston may indeed be among the front-runner.
Do the Marlins have to trade Realmuto?
This is where popular opinion intersects with possible reality. According to multiple sources, the Marlins are prepared to hold onto Realmuto in 2019, and perhaps into '20, his final season of arbitration. Many dismiss this idea, claiming the Marlins are missing out on maximizing Realmuto's trade value.
This is true, if the intention all along is to trade Realmuto. The Marlins aren't saying they are. Regarded as the best catcher in the Majors, Realmuto has two more seasons left in arbitration before qualifying for free agency in 2021.
If the Marlins take a hard-line stance, they could carry Realmuto all the way until he reaches free agency and hope within the next two seasons they are in position to contend for at least a National League Wild Card spot, or he agrees to sign long term. If not, they can seek a trade at the non-waiver Deadline, perhaps in July 2019 or even '20.
Also remember that chief executive officer Derek Jeter has publicly said that Realmuto has every right to decline a contract extension, but Miami controls where the catcher will play the next two seasons.
What we've learned about current ownership is that it has a plan and hasn't really budged from it, even in the face of public backlash.
Could Realmuto still agree to an extension?
Barring a change of heart, it seems unlikely. Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, stated publicly in October that would not be an option. What's interesting is the Heyman report, stating that Realmuto would seek a deal similar to Posey.
Posey signed an eight-year, $154 million extension with the Giants. He was 26 at the time, with four years of club control remaining. Realmuto has two more years of club control. It's doubtful the Marlins would make that kind of commitment for that many years. But perhaps what could work is if Miami offered a deal with an average annual value (AAV) close to what Posey's extension will pay him ($21.4 million) over the final three years of his contract.
If the Marlins offered, say, five years and $100 million, it would be interesting to see if Realmuto's camp would decline.
Don't the Marlins have to maximize Realmuto's value?
It depends on the organization's objectives. The Marlins enter Year 2 of what they hope is a three- to five-year building plan. Without an internal replacement for 2019, trading Realmuto would set that table back. The organization has a talented, young catcher in the system, Will Banfield, who was its Competitive Balance Round B selection in the '18 Draft. Banfield is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 8 prospect, but he is just out of high school.
Keep this in mind: The 2017 offseason is where the Marlins stripped down the roster's core to bolster their farm system. Yes, you're always seeking to get more quality players, but if the return for Realmuto -- in the eyes of the Marlins -- is a No. 3-caliber starter or a fringe position player, they aren't getting equal value.
An aside to consider: Since June 26, 2017, when Adeiny Hechavarria was dealt to the Rays, the Marlins have made 15 trades that netted 31 total players. Of that group, half are on the club's current MLB Pipeline Top 30 list, including five of the top six. Additionally, the Marlins made a couple of other trades for international bonus pool money that was used to sign Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr.
Dealing Realmuto for anything less than a top prospect isn't going to dramatically upgrade the Marlins' farm system.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.