CINCINNATI -- One of the best catchers in baseball was available all winter in J.T. Realmuto, and the Reds were very much one of the teams in hot pursuit in trade talks with the Marlins.
But on Thursday, it was the Phillies who acquired Realmuto from Miami for catcher Jorge Alfaro, right-hander Sixto Sanchez, left-hander Will Stewart and $250,000 in international bonus slot money.
The Reds, Padres, Dodgers, Braves and Astros were all believed in the hunt to acquire the All-Star catcher. A source told MLB.com that the Marlins were seeking the very top prospects in any trade. For the Reds, that meant players like infielder/outfielder Nick Senzel and center fielder Taylor Trammell, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the organization by MLB Pipeline.
Cincinnati has been adamant all offseason about not parting with any of its top prospects. At one point, according to a source, the Reds had offered three players to Miami -- namely catcher Tucker Barnhart and No. 4 prospect and infielder Jonathan India. It's unclear who was the third player also included in the proposal.
Because the Reds already had Barnhart, catching was not viewed as a need for them. It was not a secret since the end of the 2018 season that rebuilding Miami was trying to trade Realmuto, but he languished without a taker almost the entire Hot Stove season.
Cincinnati has likely been the most active club this winter, completing three trades that acquired starting pitchers Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, along with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Seeking to be competitive in the National League Central race, the club took its shot for Realmuto to see where talks would go with the Marlins.
While Barnhart is his equal defensively, Realmuto is one of the top hitting catchers in the Major Leagues and batted .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs last season. He was valued at 4.3 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Another issue with Realmuto is that he's under club control for only two seasons. Miami would not allow any interested club with a window to negotiate an extension as part of the trade.
Ultimately, the Reds were fine with holding on to Barnhart and their top prospects. Barnhart and backup Curt Casali will be their catching duo.
When reached for his reaction, Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams would not address the Realmuto efforts specifically.
"We worked really hard this offseason to be in the mix on discussions about impactful players," Williams said. "We think that the three trades we've been involved in were three of the more valuable transactions that were moved this offseason. We feel like we've been in on discussions for just about any significant trade that's been considered. So far, we feel like we've improved the club and still very much maintain a strong farm system that will continue to be used to feed the Major League team this year and beyond or be used to strengthen the team through trades."
Free-agent lefty reliever Zach Duke is believed close to completing a deal with the Reds. Adding a center fielder is a possibility, but the Reds are fine with having Puig, Senzel or Scott Schebler handle those duties in some fashion.
Otherwise, it's become likely the current roster won't change much before Spring Training opens on Tuesday in Goodyear, Ariz. Williams didn't rule out more moves, however.
"I would say we're pretty much there," Williams said of the team's makeup for camp. "I could see us doing another move or two, either a trade or free-agent signing. There's a chance. We'll keep looking at ways to improve the depth of the team."