Mets engage Marlins on Realmuto trade talks

December 11th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- For teams seeking catching help, there is J.T. Realmuto and there is everybody else.
On the first day of the Winter Meetings, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen remained engaged with the Marlins on Realmuto, a source confirmed, discussing scenarios as unorthodox as a three-way deal that would send to the Yankees.
While the Mets will remain a possible landing spot for Realmuto until the day the Marlins trade him elsewhere, Van Wagenen acknowledged Monday at the outset of the Winter Meetings that it would be difficult to jettison big league talent to acquire the All-Star catcher. Asked specifically about dealing starting shortstop , Van Wagenen replied: "The way I look at any trade is that we want the trade to make us better. … We're not going to create a hole by filling another."
If that same logic can be applied to Syndergaard (or to and , the Marlins' two other reported targets in a Realmuto deal), then the Mets aren't likely to make Realmuto their next catcher.
"I think a lot of teams are talking to the Marlins," Van Wagenen said. "I would anticipate his market picking up while we're down here. Whether he gets traded, if the Marlins find the right package of players that they're looking for -- it's hard for me to assess what their asking price will ultimately be, but we'll continue to have discussions with all of the available catchers."
That last bit is key. If the Mets don't land Realmuto, they could sign one of the top free-agent backstops: , or . More than anything, the Mets are seeking a defensive upgrade; the first two catchers on that list don't qualify. Maldonado does, but he is reportedly looking for an everyday gig and the Mets, with both and in-house, won't be eager to offer that.
That leaves the rest of the trade market, which Van Wagenen acknowledged as an area that intrigues him. Perhaps there's a match to be had with the Red Sox, whose GM, Dave Dombrowski, said Monday that he is looking to trade one of , or . As of late Monday, a source said, the Mets had not contacted the Red Sox about their catchers.
Vazquez and Leon in particular are strong defenders who would complement the Mets' dynamic starting pitchers and help them combat the running game.
"But we're also not going to give them away to give them away," Dombrowski said.
Other trade options include Pittsburgh's , whose defense has slipped in his early 30s, and Toronto's , whose offense took a tumble in his age-35 season.
"A number of teams are at least exploring their catchers," Van Wagenen said. "You've seen some catchers already having been traded so far, and I think there are some others that are at least available for discussion. So we'll take a look at those. We've had a lot of discussions with teams, and we definitely have had a lot of discussions with agents, as well."
Since the start of the offseason, Van Wagenen has said he would be content to go into next season with d'Arnaud and Plawecki as his catching tandem, and he remained consistent to that end by tendering d'Arnaud a contract last month. On Monday, Van Wagenen received a medical report offering confidence that d'Arnaud, who missed almost all of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will be ready to contribute on Opening Day.
But that doesn't mean the Mets will shy away from upgrading, if opportunity allows.
"We're going to keep the gas pedal down, and hope that we can accomplish our goals," Van Wagenen said. "Whether that's today, tomorrow or a month from now, we're not going to stop until we feel like we've accomplished what we wanted to."