Marlins in no rush with Realmuto decision

Star catcher could be on the move by end of Winter Meetings, but Miami showing no urgency

December 9th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- At the Winter Meetings last year, the Marlins made a couple of big moves, finalizing their mega-money deal that sent to the Yankees before trading to the Cardinals.

Those blockbuster deals were part of a sweeping roster overhaul that ultimately netted more than 30 players for the Marlins' system, including 15 that currently are on the organization's Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

The Marlins are anticipating to be far less active at the 2018 Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in Las Vegas. But they have at least one marquee player who could be on the move before the Meetings conclude on Thursday. Whether All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto is traded or not is expected to be decided over the course of the week.

Miami is open to dealing its best player, if a deal makes sense. But the club also notes it has no urgency to make a trade.

Marlins' 2018 Winter Meetings preview

"As it pertains to J.T., he's on our club," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We control him for two more years, and that's really all that needs to be said from our standpoint."

No fewer than 14 clubs have expressed interest in Realmuto, including National League East rivals in the Mets, Braves and Phillies. The Astros, Dodgers and Rockies also are reportedly in the mix.

Entering the Winter Meetings, nothing is considered imminent with Realmuto. The Marlins also aren't seeking to diminish any return for Realmuto by attaching a contract, like the $15 million owed to third baseman in 2019, to any trade proposal.

The Realmuto situation has been the hottest offseason topic for the Marlins. The 27-year-old's agent has publicly expressed that his client is not interested in signing an extension with Miami, and his preference is to be traded. Realmuto is entering his second season of arbitration, and he's eligible for free agency in 2021.

For Realmuto, the Marlins are seeking an overpay in return. They covet a top prospect and more, and in some cases, players who have already reached the big league, but have yet to reach arbitration.

With all 30 teams present at the Winter Meetings, there promises to be no shortage of speculation regarding Realmuto and other orders of business for the Marlins. Miami remains in the market to upgrade its offense and seeks first-base and corner-outfield candidates.

From an organizational standpoint, the Marlins did most of their restructuring a year ago. Realmuto is the last piece remaining from the previous core. But the Marlins have a history of being active at the Winter Meetings, and when all teams are present, the climate is right to make deals.

"The opportunity to be with all your counterparts offers an opportunity for activity," Hill said. "I think when you look at where we're at, compared to last year, we added a tremendous amount of talent to our system. We're extremely proud of the players we were able to acquire and the success that they're having in our system. That's always the goal here, to continue to add to that depth -- organizational depth -- in all areas. You can never have enough of it. We are continuing our ascent.

"Our goal is to win championships and bring a championship back to South Florida, and we're in that process. We're looking for ways to make this organization better, in the short term and the long term. That will always be the goal. We'll be open to ways to make ourselves better. We'll keep working to see if that can happen while we're there."