MIAMI -- The Marlins have already made their major trades and the organization plans on building up with J.T. Realmuto behind the plate. The question is whether the 26-year-old catcher is comfortable being a centerpiece on an inexperienced squad.
MLB.com has learned that Realmuto has not formally requested to be traded, but his representatives recently spoke with the Marlins, gauging the club's direction. Ideally, Realmuto does not want to be the last primary core position player left on Miami's big league roster.
Multiple sources said the Marlins are not actively shopping Realmuto or outfielder Christian Yelich. Still, the club has repeatedly said it will listen on all players, and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said in a statement on Monday:
"We used the last couple of weeks continuing to lay the foundation for building a first-class, winning organization. Should we feel like we need to make a trade involving any of our under contract, controllable players, we will be the ones to initiate that conversation and always do what is best for the organization."
Last week at the Winter Meetings, Marlins manager Don Mattingly spoke of Realmuto's leadership.
"I love J.T.," Mattingly said. "He's a guy that I think all our players have so much respect for, the way he plays the game, the toughness he brings, who he is as a person and who he is as a player."
If Yelich is dealt before Spring Training, that would increase Realmuto's profile as the Marlins' top young position player.
But after trading second baseman Dee Gordon and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna this month, the Marlins don't need to make any more moves with their core players. Those three trades cleared more than $340 million off Miami's books.
Realmuto is one of the top young catchers and biggest bargains in the game. He made $562,500 in 2017, and he is entering arbitration for the first time.
Since replacing Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Miami's everyday catcher early in the 2015 season, Realmuto has emerged as one of the best players at his position. In 2016, he broke through, batting .303 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs.
Realmuto hit for more power in 2017, posting a .278 average, a .783 OPS and career highs in home runs (17) and RBIs (65). He also played in 141 games, a personal high. To maximize his versatility, the Marlins also used him at first base in nine games (eight starts).
Because of his service time and talent, the feeling is the Marlins would get arguably their biggest haul for Realmuto.