MIAMI -- J.T. Realmuto trade talks are once again picking up, as the Marlins are engaged in substantive discussions with six clubs.
According to a source, the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds are considered the front-runners to acquire Realmuto. As it's been all offseason, the Marlins' asking price remains extremely high.
In return, Miami seeks a top prospect and more. In some cases, it would like a catcher with some big league experience to work with a young pitching staff.
Now that free agent Yasmani Grandal has reportedly reached an agreement with the Brewers on a one-year, $18.25 million deal, Realmuto is the top catcher on the market. Grandal's departure creates a vacancy behind the plate for the Dodgers, who have been in on-and-off discussions for Realmuto for months.
Realmuto is entering his second season of arbitration, and the Marlins haven't ruled out retaining their best player if their trade demands aren't met.
As Miami explores trade options for Realmuto, the club is also moving forward on trying to sign its arbitration-eligible players for the 2019 season. The arbitration deadline is 1 p.m. ET on Friday, meaning qualifying players must sign for the upcoming season or risk having their salaries set by an arbitration panel at a date before Spring Training begins.
The Marlins have five arbitration-eligible players -- Realmuto, right-handers Jose Urena and Dan Straily, left-hander Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas.
Realmuto's arbitration situation does not impact whether he will be traded before Spring Training opens, with pitchers and catchers beginning their workouts on Feb. 13 at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter.
Realmuto is coming off his best season, during which he batted .277 with a .340 on-base percentage and set career highs for home runs (21) and RBIs (74).