The Marlins reportedly are shopping J.T. Realmuto, who is arguably MLB's best catcher at a time when productive all-around backstops are in short supply.
Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding Realmuto.
Frisaro: Dodgers still in talks for Realmuto, with Ruiz being discussed
Jan. 22: Just when it looked like the Dodgers were out on dealing for J.T. Realmuto, they put themselves right back in.
After longtime Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal inked a one-year contract with the Brewers earlier this month, Los Angeles acquired Russell Martin from Toronto to shore up the position. That appeared to take the Dodgers out of the mix for Realmuto, who has been the biggest and longest-standing name on the trade-rumors front this offseason. But the two sides have remained in talks, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, with a high-end prospect in Keibert Ruiz being discussed as a potential return.
"A few weeks ago, it appeared that the Dodgers had moved in another direction, especially after acquiring veteran catcher Russell Martin from the Blue Jays on Jan. 11," Frisaro writes. "But sources said that Los Angeles indeed is still interested in Realmuto, and Ruiz is a possibility to be part of a deal with Miami."
Ruiz was named the No. 3 catching prospect overall by MLB Pipeline last week, meaning he would be a good get for Miami as a replacement for Realmuto down the line. The switch-hitter batted .268/.328/.401 with 12 homers and a 33-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Double-A in 2018 -- all the more impressive considering it was his age-19 season.
Aside from the fact that Realmuto is under control through 2020, part of the reason the Marlins have been hesitant to move the All-Star backstop is because the organization lacks depth at the position. That also explains why Miami could be showing interest in Ruiz.
Aside from the Dodgers, the Rays, Padres, Astros, Braves and Reds also have been reported as suitors for Realmuto, who comes with a lofty asking price that includes a young, impact big leaguer with several years of control or a top prospect.
Are markets for Harper and Machado impacting Realmuto's future?
Jan. 19: J.T. Realmuto has been the player talked about most on this offseason's trade market, but he still remains a Marlin for the time being. That could change soon, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, who said on MLB Network that he believes a deal will come together prior to Spring Training. Still, the current "holding pattern" in Realmuto's case, Frisaro said, may be due to the fact that neither of the two marquee free agents on the market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, have signed yet.
"Let's say Machado or Harper signs with the Phillies," said Frisaro. "Does that motivate the Braves to say, 'Now we've got to make our counter-move,' and they add an extra piece to get a deal done with the Marlins? I think there's a little bit of that going on, but as far as I can tell you from the reporting I've done, and others have agreed, there are about four or five teams in. I think the Braves are one of those teams that are just waiting in the wings."
Video: Frisaro on latest rumblings surrounding J.T. Realmuto
Realmuto, 27, had a breakout year in 2018, slashing .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs in 125 games for Miami. He has well-above-average speed and is considered one of the best catchers in the game today. MLB Network ranks him as the No. 2 catcher in baseball right now. More >
How does Dodgers' trade for Martin affect Realmuto market?
Jan. 11: The Dodgers have been linked to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto perhaps more than any other team this offseason, but the club now seemingly has its catching situation shored up for 2019. Los Angeles has acquired Russell Martin from Toronto, reuniting the team with a player it initially selected in the 2002 Draft.
Martin will help to fill the void left by Yasmani Grandal, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Brewers on Wednesday after rejecting the Dodgers' qualifying offer. The 35-year-old figures to split time with Austin Barnes, keeping the position warm for catching prospects Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
Martin played with the Dodgers from 2006-10 and produced a .761 OPS in that span while winning one Gold Glove Award. He has one year and $20 million remaining on the five-year, $82 million deal he signed with the Blue Jays in November 2014, and Toronto will reportedly be picking up a significant portion of that money.
The Dodgers' trade for Martin comes one day after MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported that Los Angeles was among six teams "engaged in substantive discussions" with the Marlins about a deal for Realmuto, who is under control for two more seasons. The Braves, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds were the other five, according to a source.
Los Angeles' decision to add Martin is perhaps further proof that Miami's asking price for Realmuto is prohibitive. The Marlins have been shopping Realmuto for months, but talks continue to stall.
Of course, it's possible the Dodgers will continue to discuss Realmuto with the Marlins while viewing Martin as a fallback option if a deal doesn't come together. Los Angeles could also add Martin or Barnes to its offer for Realmuto, as Miami will need a replacement backstop if it trades its starting catcher.
Mattingly: Realmuto could remain with Marlins entering Spring Training
Jan. 4: More than two months after the offseason began, the J.T. Realmuto situation is seemingly no closer to being resolved.
"As one rival executive put it, the fact that Realmuto is still a Marlin tells you everything you need to know about the team's asking price for their All-Star catcher," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote in a column for The Athletic (subscription required) on Thursday.
Indeed, the Marlins' asking price for Realmuto -- essentially, either a top-tier prospect or a promising young big leaguer with years of control, plus other pieces -- remains as high as ever, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported Wednesday. "Until something gives, either with the Marlins lowering their demands or a team shows it's willing to part with a top prospect and more," Frisaro wrote, "the Realmuto saga essentially is a standoff."
"For me, I'm ecstatic right now, because I feel like we're walking into camp with J.T. again," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Friday on MLB Network's Hot Stove. "He's the real deal. That's why, I think, we've put a price tag on him that's way up there."
That said, interested teams are maintaining the belief that the Marlins will ultimately deal the backstop before the season begins, per Rosenthal, because "keeping him would border on front-office malpractice."
As Rosenthal points out, Realmuto's trade value is unlikely to increase during the upcoming season, for multiple reasons. There will be fewer teams looking for a catcher come July, and those that still do need one will likely be even more reluctant to trade Major League pieces at that point. Furthermore, teams are mindful that a newly acquired catcher will need to learn about the club's pitching staff on the fly, which is a difficult endeavor -- even for the best defensive backstops.
The Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds are believed to be the clubs most interested in the All-Star backstop. Will one of them decide to part with the young talent Miami covets? Or will the suitors continue to wait out the Marlins to see if they really do hold onto Realmuto -- who is controllable through the 2020 season -- heading into Spring Training and beyond? For now, this game of chicken continues ...
Video: Rosenthal on top free agents, best trade targets
Will Astros meet asking price for Realmuto?
Jan. 1: The buzz surrounding J.T. Realmuto has quieted down since the Winter Meetings, as teams have been unwilling to meet the Marlins' lofty asking price for their All-Star catcher.
The Astros remain interested in the backstop, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, but Miami has not moved off its demand for either Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley to be the centerpiece of a trade. Thus, trade talks between the two clubs haven't gained traction.
Tucker and Whitley are two of the top prospects in baseball, ranking fifth and eighth, respectively, on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list. Houston has two other prospects on the list -- outfielder Yordan Alvarez (No. 42 overall) and right-hander Josh James (No. 95 overall) -- but it makes sense for Miami to insist that either Tucker or Whitley be in the deal. After all, Realmuto is arguably the top player at MLB's shallowest position, and he is two years away from free agency.
As part of his 19 bold predictions for 2019, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince provides his take on where Realmuto will wind up. "The Astros will trade for Realmuto," Castrovince writes. "And Kyle Tucker? Despite the reports about the Astros balking at the Marlins' current asking price, you're going to look good in Miami blue and caliente red, bud."
The Marlins don't have a single player on the Top 100 list, despite trading Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon last offseason, and Lewis Brinson -- the centerpiece of the Yelich deal -- is coming off a season in which he recorded a 56 wRC+ in 406 plate appearances. Realmuto is Miami's best remaining asset, and the club desperately needs to hit a home run when it finally trades him.
The Astros' reluctance to include Tucker or Whitley isn't that surprising, either, and not just because the two are so highly touted. Houston's roster, which includes Max Stassi and newcomer Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, is good enough to win the World Series without Realmuto.
Padres remain engaged on Realmuto
Dec. 27: Corey Kluber apparently isn't the only big name the Padres are currently targeting in a trade, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that San Diego has continued to have discussions regarding Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
While top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. (MLB's No. 2 overall prospect) likely is off limits, San Diego can still offer Miami an attractive package from its talent-rich farm system, which has 10 players on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list.
Morosi notes that if the Padres are successful in landing Realmuto, they could turn around and trade backstop Austin Hedges for pitching. The club's current catching situation includes Hedges and No. 3 prospect Francisco Mejia (No. 26 overall), who was acquired from Cleveland for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber this past season.
Interestingly, the Padres and the division-rival Dodgers are two of the top suitors for both Kluber and Realmuto. It's possible whichever team doesn't land Kluber will get Realmuto instead, though there are other teams in the mix for each player.
If Marlins deal Realmuto, which prospects should they target?
Dec. 20: We've been hearing plenty about J.T. Realmuto rumors lately, so much so that a few names of elite, high-end outfield prospects from interested suitors have been floated: Kyle Tucker of the Astros, Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers and Jesus Sanchez of the Rays.
How do they stack up against each other, and which should the Marlins be most focused on trying to acquire if they actually move their All-Star catcher? MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo answered just this question, so here's the MLB Pipeline prospect guru to take it away.
"All three of the outfielders mentioned ... are very talented and all are in the top 35 of our current Top 100 prospects list," Mayo writes. "Now, that list will be re-ranked in late January 2019, but there's no question Tucker is the best of this group. Ranked No. 5 overall, Tucker had an outstanding 2018 campaign, very small sample size of big league play aside. He turned in his second straight 20-20 season, hitting .332 and leading the Pacific Coast League with a .989 OPS. Oh, and he was only 21 years old.
"Verdugo and Sanchez are back-to-back in the rankings, at No. 32 and 33. Verdugo continued to show he can hit with an advanced approach, finishing with a .329/.391/.472 line in Triple-A as a 22-year-old. That was a career high for a full season in terms of SLG. Sanchez played the 2018 season at age 20 and hit for average and developing power, earning a promotion up to Double-A. Personally at this point, I'd probably rank Sanchez ahead of Verdugo because I think he has a higher ceiling. But Verdugo is ready to contribute right now, while Sanchez might need another year in the Minors, so if a team is looking for a more immediate return, Verdugo might be ranked slightly ahead, with Tucker leading the pack."
There you have it. Now it's just a simple matter of whether the Marlins can get the Astros, Dodgers or Rays to part with one of the above as part of a deal -- if Miami does, in fact, decide to deal Realmuto.