MIAMI -- As the General Managers Meetings get underway in Carlsbad, Calif., the Marlins find themselves in an interesting spot. They are seeking ways to upgrade their offense while also weighing whether they should trade their best player.It's very possible Miami could deal All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto this offseason, which
MIAMI -- As the General Managers Meetings get underway in Carlsbad, Calif., the Marlins find themselves in an interesting spot. They are seeking ways to upgrade their offense while also weighing whether they should trade their best player.
It's very possible Miami could deal All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto this offseason, which would even further complicate the challenge of improving an offense that ranked last in the Majors in several major statistical categories.
Established as one of the top catchers, Realmuto emerged as the face of the franchise for the Marlins during a transitional 2018 season.
The club is building from the Minor Leagues on up, and at the big league level, Miami finished 63-98. During a difficult year, Realmuto stood out as a leader, and he backed it up with impressive statistics.
Named to the All-Star Game for the first time, Realmuto compiled a slash line of .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs.
The Marlins have no urgency to trade the 27-year-old, who will be entering his second season of arbitration. He also isn't a free agent until 2021. But with a shortage of elite catchers throughout the Majors, Realmuto's stock is extremely high.
The Astros, Dodgers and Nationals are clubs that could use catching. But that list certainly is expected to grow, because the Marlins are open to listening on all of their players.
Realmuto is preparing for the MLB Japan All-Star Series, and the question remains as to whether he has played his final game with the Marlins.
Last week, his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, said Realmuto has informed the Marlins that he will not sign a contract extension. But the Marlins haven't completely closed the door on the prospect of signing their talented catcher long term. If the Marlins get blown away by a trade offer, then Realmuto could be dealt, perhaps at the Winter Meetings in December.
Whether Realmuto stays or goes, a major Marlins offseason initiative is to improve the offense.
Along with trades, the organization is open to signing modestly priced free agents.
"I think we are going to be open to however we can make this organization better, and look for ways for us to do that," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
In 2018, the Marlins ranked last in the Majors in runs scored (589), home runs (128), doubles (222) and slugging percentage (.357).
Miami is aiming to sign an impactful veteran hitter. Some free agents who may fit are Matt Adams, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and perhaps Daniel Murphy.
Adams, 30, is a left-handed-hitting first baseman who split time with the Nationals and the Cardinals in 2018. In 94 games with Washington, he hit 18 homers and drove in 48 runs. Overall, his line was .239/.309/.477 with 21 homers and 57 RBIs.
Cabrera, who turns 33 this month, has traditionally hit Miami well. It wouldn't be surprising if the Marlins wanted the veteran to join them. A middle infielder for most of his career, Cabrera could be a candidate to also see some time at first base. With the Mets and Phillies this year, he batted .262/.316/.458 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs.
Walker, 33, hit 11 homers and drove in 46 runs in 113 games with the Yankees. In 2017, the left-handed-hitting infielder batted .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs.
Murphy could be a fallback option, if the veteran is open to being part of a building team. A career second baseman, the 33-year-old has seen some time at first base. With the Nationals and Cubs this year, he combined to bat .299 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs in 91 games.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.