If J.T. Realmuto doesn't sign an extension, will he be traded [next] season or will the Marlins wait until 2020 to trade him?
What's next for Realmuto will be the top Hot Stove storyline for the Marlins, because many believe the All-Star catcher will not agree to an extension. In my opinion, for that to change, the Marlins must present to the 27-year-old a path to contending within the next two years. Otherwise, they probably should look to make a trade.
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Realmuto has two more years left in arbitration before he qualifies for free agency. He is reaching his prime at a time the Marlins appear to still be a few years away from seriously contending. But, if the team expresses to him that by 2020 it can be knocking on the door for a playoff spot, and the contract offer is right, then perhaps Realmuto commits long-term to Miami.
That said, the Marlins likely will still explore trade scenarios this offseason to see what may be out there. Like last offseason, if something makes sense, the front office will consider it. Either way, Realmuto promises to be a prominent name to follow once free agency and trades pick up after the World Series. Potential trading partners could be the Yankees, who have said they will keep Gary Sanchez, Astros and Nationals.
Who's the next prospect you foresee being someone worth watching aside from the ones you have mentioned this year?
I'm going to give you two right-handed relievers, and both are currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Keep an eye on Tommy Eveld and Chad Smith.
Acquired from the D-backs in July for Brad Ziegler, Eveld is a 6-foot-5, 24-year-old. He's a towering figure with a mid-90s fastball. In some ways, he draws comparisons to current Miami reliever Drew Steckenrider, a rangy, right-hander with a heavy fastball. Eveld likely will open next year at Triple-A New Orleans. His combined Minor League numbers were a 1.07 ERA in 50 1/3 innings with 61 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Smith, 23, was an 11th-round pick in 2016 by the Marlins from the University of Mississippi. He had 45 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Jupiter. On Wednesday night in the Arizona Fall League, his fastball was between 94-99 mph.
Any word on the potential logo change and what it will mean for the 2019 season?
We've known for some time that Marlins ownership has been planning to rebrand the logo and uniforms for 2019, and an unveiling could take place sometime next month. In many ways, this was an evaluation year for the new ownership, as it assessed every department from top to bottom. As we saw, orange was largely phased out after Spring Training. The team didn't wear the color once in the regular season.
An official rebranding is expected sometime in November, after the World Series and before Thanksgiving. Exact details remain to be seen, but the Marlins have been gathering feedback from fans through their Dimelo (Talk to Me) program. The input from fans is being factored into whatever the final logo will be, including colors, design and what type of font is used. Many fans are wondering if teal, which was prominent in the early years of the franchise, will make a comeback. I wouldn't be surprised if it does, but I don't know if it will be the primary color.
Will the Marlins look into the possibility of signing Manny Machado?
As much as I'd like to see the Marlins bring in more players from South Florida, it's also important that they are the right fit. Despite being a Miami native, Machado will hit free agency likely wanting to be on a contender, not with a team in the second year of a building process.
The timing isn't right for the organization to pursue a free agent expected to sign for more than $250 million. Such a deal is way too risky for the Marlins, who are still in the process of trying to work out a new local television deal with Fox Sports Florida. Also, a naming rights partner isn't expected until 2020, at the earliest. So, there aren't those revenue streams at this point to justify spending so heavily on one All-Star, when the club is more than a player away from seriously contending.
[Is] Drew Steckenrider the early favorite for closer?
I'd say that's a safe assumption, especially when you consider Kyle Barraclough was traded to the Nationals earlier this month. Dealing Barraclough opened the door for Steckenrider to at least be considered the front-runner to close heading into Spring Training. I wouldn't be surprised if the club also pursues a veteran who has either closed or pitched in high-leverage situations in the past. But I don't anticipate that being a pricy free agent.
The Marlins aren't knocking on the door to being a playoff team right now, and allocating resources on a closer is not a priority. Steckenrider is a strike thrower, and he misses bats. He had a 10.30 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate this year. Adam Conley is another possibility, but he is a lefty and may be more valuable in a setup role, because he can pitch multiple innings.