MIAMI -- The New Year has arrived, and the situation remains basically the same for the Marlins regarding J.T. Realmuto.
The asking price continues to be very high, and Miami is prepared to carry the All-Star catcher into Spring Training.
• Latest Realmuto trade rumors
Marlins pitchers and catchers workouts begin on Feb. 13 at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, and full-squad practices get underway on Feb. 18.
Realmuto, who has two years remaining in arbitration before qualifying for free agency in 2021, has been one of the hottest topics during the Hot Stove season. Shortly after the World Series, the catcher's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, stated publicly that his client was not interested in signing an extension with the Marlins. That stance hasn't seemed to change either.
At least 14 teams have expressed some level of interest in Realmuto, and that list is believed to have been narrowed to about four or five. MLB.com insider Jon Paul Morosi recently listed the Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and -- to a lesser degree -- the Reds as the likely frontrunners in the Realmuto sweepstakes.
Through all the speculation, the Marlins have held firmly that they are seeking at least a top prospect or promising young big leaguer with controllable years of service time, and more, in return for arguably the best catcher in the game. Realmuto was an All-Star in 2018, setting career highs with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs to go along with a slash line of .277/.340/.484. He's had at least 30 doubles in three straight seasons, including 30 last year.
For Realmuto, the Marlins are looking for left-handed-hitting options. Kyle Tucker of the Astros and Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers are potential targets. Per MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, Tucker is the No. 5 ranked prospect, and Verdugo ranks 32nd.
The Rays have outfielder Jesus Sanchez, the 33rd overall prospect, and San Diego has a deep system that includes catcher/outfielder Francisco Mejia (rated 26th).
Until something gives, either with the Marlins lowering their demands or a team showing it's willing to part with a top prospect and more, the Realmuto saga essentially is a standoff. Even if Realmuto reports to Spring Training in February, the Marlins likely will still be open to dealing their best player, either before Opening Day or by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
A more pressing matter for the Marlins regarding Realmuto is the Jan. 11 deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures. Realmuto is among Miami's five arbitration-eligible players. The others are right-handers Jose Urena and Dan Straily, lefty reliever Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas.
Per team policy, if deals aren't completed by Jan. 11, the salaries will be determined at an arbitration hearing at a date before Spring Training.