MIAMI -- Once again, the Marlins are expected to be at the center of attention at the annual General Managers Meetings. This time, the focus will be on All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.Earlier in the week, Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, made it public that his client has informed the
MIAMI -- Once again, the Marlins are expected to be at the center of attention at the annual General Managers Meetings. This time, the focus will be on All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Earlier in the week, Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, made it public that his client has informed the Marlins that he is not interested in signing a contract extension.
On Friday, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill addressed on a conference call Realmuto's status and the organization's direction heading into the meetings, which will run Monday through Wednesday at Carlsbad, Calif.
"Agents can say whatever they want to say," Hill said. "J.T. knows how we feel about him, and it doesn't change the job that we have to do. My job is to build a sustainable, successful organization. Those comments don't impact how I go about my job, and what my job is -- to bring a championship to South Florida."
Realmuto has two seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining, and he will qualify for free agency in 2021.
The Marlins were hopeful of locking Realmuto up long-term. But earlier in the week, Berry said on MLB Network Radio: "I think [Realmuto] will definitely be wearing a different uniform by the start of Spring Training."
Hill on Friday would not reveal the conversations he's had with Realmuto or his representatives.
"We don't comment on those conversations," Hill said. "They stay between us and the player."
Hill did say that Berry's comments do not change Miami's offseason objectives.
"It doesn't impact in any way how we approach our offseason," Hill said. "J.T. knows how we feel about him, and we know that it's up to him if he accepts an extension or not. But the fact remains that we control him for the next two years. As we look to improve this team and this organization, that hasn't changed."
Still, the Marlins are expected to listen to any potential offers for Realmuto, or any Miami player. If a trade makes sense, it will at least be considered.
"We get a lot of interest in a number of our players," Hill said. "J.T. is obviously a very talented player. I would expect there would be interest in a number of our talented players. That's always the case. It's our job to go there with an open mind of how we improve this organization, and how we get better."
Hill said there is no time frame to resolve whether Realmuto stays or is dealt.
"He's under control for the next two years," Hill said. "The only question we need to address is what will his arbitration-eligible number be? He will be second-time eligible. Beyond that, our goal is to get this team better, and improve upon our 2018 season."
Realmuto made $2.9 million in 2018.
The Astros, Nationals, Dodgers, Braves and perhaps the Yankees could be potential trade matches for Realmuto.
The Marlins are entering the second year of their building process. Unlike last year, it won't be as hectic.
Last offseason, Miami underwent a major roster overhaul, trading core players Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon.
This year, Realmuto remains the big name who may be dealt.
In theory, if he is not open to signing an extension, the Marlins would be maximizing Realmuto's trade value by moving him before Spring Training. The longer he remains with Miami, the more the club risks reducing his potential return.
Hill said the organization's objective for 2019 is improving. After finishing 63-98, the team has plenty of work to do. The Marlins have not publicly stated what their payroll will be next year, but sources indicate it will be around $100 million.
"We're getting ready to head to the GM Meetings next week, and start the process of making improvements to this club," Hill said. "We won 63 games this past year. We need to improve."
• By the end of the month, the Marlins are expected to fill their four coaching vacancies. They are currently interviewing candidates for pitching coach, assistant hitting coach, infield coach and strength and conditioning coordinator.
• Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. returned to the Dominican Republic to begin their offseason condition programs. Neither is expected to play Winter Ball. The Marlins signed the two Cuban-born outfielders in October.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.