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.
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.
Top item on Marlins' to-do list? Resolve Realmuto rumors
Dec. 30: While a lot of the focus remains on when and where free-agent superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign -- not to mention, how much -- perhaps the hottest trade-related rumor as the new year arrives continues to be what will happen with Marlins star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto's name, of course, has been a headline mainstay ever since his agent made it clear at the outset of the offseason that the backstop almost certainly will not be signing an extention to stay in Miami. That essentially puts something of a countdown on Realmuto's time with the Marlins, considering he is widely considered the best catcher in the sport and under club control through 2020.
At least eight different teams over the past several weeks have been linked to Realmuto, although some of those have addressed the position elsewhere, including the Mets (Wilson Ramos) and Angels (Jonathan Lucroy). Other clubs to express serious interest or be connected to Realmuto? The Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Padres and Brewers.
All of the above means it's no surprise that the No. 1 item on the Marlins' to-do list entering 2019 is resolving the Realmuto rumors, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
"What's next for Realmuto has been one of the most talked about Hot Stove storylines in all of baseball," Frisaro writes. "The All-Star catcher made it clear he isn't interested in a contract extension, and Miami has spent the past few months shopping its best player. There was some clarity to his market at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, and at least a half-dozen teams have been in the mix."
At the same time, however, that doesn't mean Realmuto has to be traded any time soon, either. "The Marlins also have maintained that they have no urgency to deal Realmuto," Frisaro points out. "He has two more seasons left being arbitration-eligible, and he isn't a free agent until 2021."
The Astros, in particular, have been in the mix for Realmuto for a long time. They are interested, look like a great fit given their window of contention and could upgrade from the current Robinson Chirinos/Max Stassi tandem, as MLB.com's Brian McTaggart writes. At this point, whether Houston and Miami can match up on a deal might come down to whether the Astros, after signing veteran outfielder Michael Brantley, are willing to move top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker.
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.
Is this team the perfect fit for Realmuto?
Dec. 26: Having inked outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million contract recently, the Astros have to address their rotation. But are they still in play for Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto?
The addition of Robinson Chirinos earlier this month helped solidify the position, but that doesn't mean Houston still couldn't improve behind the plate, and MLB.com's Brian McTaggart considers the Realmuto rumors again in his end-of-2018 inbox.
"I think Realmuto would be a perfect fit in Houston," McTaggart writes, "and 2019 could be the Astros' biggest chance to win another championship considering [Justin] Verlander, [Gerrit] Cole and [Collin] McHugh are all free agents after next season. The asking price for Realmuto is very high, and so far the Astros have been unwilling to move top prospects [Forrest] Whitley and Kyle Tucker. Can they make a deal without at least one of those two guys?"
While Whitley -- MLB Pipeline's top overall pitching prospect -- has been off the table all along, the potential inclusion of Tucker remains at least something of a possibility, depending on the source. If the 21-year-old outfielder, who checks in as the No. 5 overall prospect in the sport, is in fact in play, it could give Houston a big-name chip that the Marlins have been targeting as part of what likely would be a massive return for the consensus best all-around backstop.
The No. 5 overall Draft selection in 2015, Tucker has advanced rapidly through the Minor Leagues, earning a brief callup last season for his Major League debut. Although he hit just .141/.236/.203 over 28 games, Tucker posted his second straight 20-20 season in the Minors, and wound up slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers and 20 steals in 100 games at Triple-A Fresno.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported recently that Houston was indeed "back in the mix" for a potential trade for Realmuto, with discussions centering around Tucker.
Jim Bowden, a former MLB general manager and current analyst for MLB Network Radio, also thinks the next logical move for the Astros could be to trade. "Is that the next play?" Bowden asks. "And now you have Realmuto and Brantley in the lineup. And then you sign Nelson Cruz as DH? ... Kyle Tucker's not ready, or he'd be in left field. I wonder if they're going to ship him to Miami to get Realmuto, especially since the Mets signed Wilson Ramos. So they're not in on Realmuto, and the Astros are now the best fit for Miami. ... If I'm an Astros fan, my heart is pitter-pattering right now."
Pegged as the current starter, Chirinos could fit as a solid backup to Realmuto, who would add to Houston's impressive core of in-their-prime players under control for multiple seasons as the Astros seek to return to the World Series after falling short against the Red Sox in the ALCS.
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.