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Marlins expect answers at Winter Meetings

Miami looking to resolve Realmuto situation, acquire veteran reliever
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- Since the end of the regular season, the most pressing question surrounding the Marlins has been when and where will All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto be traded?

The Winter Meetings, which get underway on Monday in Las Vegas, are expected to provide plenty of answers as the Marlins are open to dealing their best player.

MIAMI -- Since the end of the regular season, the most pressing question surrounding the Marlins has been when and where will All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto be traded?

The Winter Meetings, which get underway on Monday in Las Vegas, are expected to provide plenty of answers as the Marlins are open to dealing their best player.

The 27-year-old Realmuto established himself as one of the top catchers in the Majors in 2018. But with two years remaining in arbitration, and the fact it is unlikely he will sign a contract extension, the timing appears right to make a deal.

Hot Stove Tracker

According to a source, 14 teams have expressed some level of interest, headlined by the Mets, Dodgers and Astros. But Miami's asking price is extremely high -- a top prospect and more -- and it isn't automatic that a match will be found.

But because Realmuto is such a big part of their franchise, the Marlins appear to want some form of closure on his situation. So they'd like to make a trade, while keeping the door open to retaining him at least into Spring Training and the start of 2019.

Video: Will Realmuto be on the move at Winter Meetings?

With all 30 clubs gathered in Las Vegas, there will be no shortage of rumors as to where Realmuto might land.

Realmuto, though, isn't Miami's only order of business at the Meetings, which will run Monday through Thursday. The Marlins are open to moving second baseman Starlin Castro, as well as interested in testing the market for trade and free-agent matches to improve their offense. Plus, they would like to add at least one experienced reliever.

Miami's biggest offseason splash came in October, with the signings of Cuban outfield prospects Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa Jr.

Video: Frisaro on meaning of Marlins signing Mesa brothers

Needs
Offense. Offense. Offense. After ranking last in the Majors in runs (589), home runs (128), doubles (222) and slugging percentage (.357), the Marlins are aiming to acquire impactful bats. They could find them either through modestly priced free agents looking to sign one-year deals or via trades. That's why you are hearing reports that Miami is seeking at least one big league-ready player with controllable years in any trade talks for Realmuto. Bullpen depth also is on the priority list. More >

Whom might they trade?
The obvious answer is Realmuto, the All-Star catcher who has been among the most speculated players during the Hot Stove season. Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, has publicly stated his client is not interested in a contract extension.

Video: Michael Hill discusses the trade market for Realmuto

Prospects to know
Over the past 18 months, the Marlins have made more than a dozen trades that have brought in more than 30 new players into the system. On Miami's MLB Pipeline Top 30 list, 15 of those were either acquired or signed as international free agents in that span. The Marlins are looking to bring in more prospects rather than remove from their current inventory. If they were to subtract, right-hander Jeff Brigham (ranked 21st by Pipeline), who made four big league starts for Miami in September, could be an interesting reliever/spot candidate to include in a trade.

Video: CIN@MIA: Brigham strikes out Votto swinging

Rule 5 Draft 
The roster is at 40, so a move would have to be made in order for Miami to participate in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft. A few weeks ago, the Marlins claimed right-hander Julian Fernandez off waivers from the Giants. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Fernandez actually has Rule 5 Draft status. Left unprotected by Miami is left-handed prospect McKenzie Mills, whom the Marlins acquired for Justin Bour.

Payroll summary 
For the second straight year, payroll is expected to be about $100 million. Three players are under contract for a total of $46 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts: Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to make $20 million, third baseman Martin Prado $15 million and Castro $11.857 million. Five others are in arbitration -- Realmuto, right-handers Dan Straily and Jose Urena, left-hander Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas. The team should have enough to sign modestly priced free agents.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

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