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Marlins keeping an open mind on Realmuto

Club willing to trade or retain catcher, who has reportedly rejected 2 long-term offers from Miami
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The Marlins remain open to either trading or retaining J.T. Realmuto for the 2019 season, but their chances of signing the All-Star catcher to a contract extension appear remote.

Realmuto has already rejected two separate offers from the Marlins, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM and the Swings and Mishes Marlins Podcast.

MIAMI -- The Marlins remain open to either trading or retaining J.T. Realmuto for the 2019 season, but their chances of signing the All-Star catcher to a contract extension appear remote.

Realmuto has already rejected two separate offers from the Marlins, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM and the Swings and Mishes Marlins Podcast.

In July, according to Mish, the Marlins approached Realmuto with an offer of four years and $43 million. It was declined, as was a second offer at a later date of five years and $61 million, which included an option for a sixth year that would have bumped up the total package to $76 million.

In October, Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, told MLB Network Radio that Realmuto was not interested in signing an extension with Miami.

The Marlins are not publicly addressing their contract talks with Realmuto. But sources tell MLB.com that the Marlins' stance on whether to trade Realmuto -- who has two more years remaining in arbitration -- has not changed.

The organization will head into the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Monday open to dealing the 27-year-old. But if the Marlins' asking price is not met, they are also prepared to carry Realmuto for as long as possible.

The Astros, Dodgers, Mets and Giants have expressed various levels of interest in Realmuto. The Nationals had previously been interested, but they instead signed free agent Kurt Suzuki and made a trade with the Indians for Yan Gomes.

The Braves also expressed interest, but they signed Brian McCann and have Tyler Flowers on the roster.

Since Realmuto is not eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, the Marlins feel no urgency to make a trade.

Video: Marlins could use J.T. Realmuto as a trade piece

Statistically, Realmuto made the case that he was the best catcher in the Majors in 2018. In 125 games, he had a slash line of .277/.340/.484 and established career highs with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs.

A third-round Draft pick of the Marlins in 2010, Realmuto has reached elite status. He's regarded as the most athletic at his position and has steadily improved at the plate.

All season the Marlins expressed how they planned to discuss an extension with Realmuto in the offseason. But at what cost?

MLB.com has learned that the Marlins have been willing -- as a starting point in talks -- to strike a five- or six-year deal with Realmuto that would -- after covering his remaining two arbitration seasons -- have an average annual value (AAV) during his would-be free-agent years (starting in 2021) of at least $16 million. That's in the range of the $16.4 million AAV that Russell Martin got when he signed with the Blue Jays. Martin signed a five-year, $82 million deal with Toronto in 2015.

McCann previously signed for five years and $85 million with the Yankees -- a deal that ran from 2014-18, and had an AAV of $17 million.

Miami was prepared to place Realmuto in the Martin-McCann range.

Buster Posey of the Giants has the richest deal for any current catcher -- nine years and $167 million that he signed in 2013.

Due to the grueling nature of the position, five or more years for catchers can be risky.

Posey, for instance, has been seeing time at first base while also catching, and he hasn't caught more than 100 games in each of the past two seasons. Since Posey signed his extension, the most games he's caught is 123 (2016).

Joe Mauer, who announced his retirement after the 2018 season, signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Twins in 2010. Mauer's AAV from 2011-18 was $23 million, and he never caught more than 75 games (2013) during that span.

Realmuto has been durable since becoming Miami's regular catcher in 2015 -- playing as many as 141 games in 2017. This year, he appeared in 125 games after opening the season on the disabled list with a bone bruise to his lower back he suffered in Spring Training.

The Marlins don't have an internal replacement should Realmuto be traded. Will Banfield, their Competitive Balance Round B pick in the 2018 Draft, just turned 19 in November. He is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 8 prospect.

On Monday, the Marlins announced the signing of Bryan Holaday, who was Realmuto's backup in 2018, to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Chad Wallach, who caught on Opening Day while Realmuto was on the DL, is on Miami's 40-man roster.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto