According to Craig Mish of Sirius XM, Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has requested a trade from the team. This comes as no surprise as the new Marlins’ brass has rapidly stripped the franchise of its top talent, trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon so far this offseason. The Marlins are headed for a grueling rebuild that will test the patience of fans and talent alike. Realmuto, 26, has decided that he does not want to be part of that process and has subsequently asked that the Marlins trade him.
In just his third full season, Realmuto put up impressive numbers from the catcher position, slashing .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs and 36 extra-base hits. His power combined with a solid batting average will attract many suitors to Realmuto, especially taking into account that he does it from the catcher position, one in which it is typically difficult to find consistent offense. Realmuto is also, according to Baseball Savant’s Sprint Speed Leaderboards, easily the fastest catcher in baseball. Savant puts Realmuto in the top 50 fastest players in baseball, ahead of people like Mike Trout, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Dexter Fowler, and Charlie Blackmon; the next-fastest catcher, Willson Contreras, barely cracks the top 200, among the likes of Stanton, Jordy Mercer, and Erick Aybar.
What also makes Realmuto a strong trade candidate is the fact that he will not be a free agent until 2021. Realmuto has three more arbitration-eligible years before he can hit the free agent market. This makes his contract much easier to control for any team that could potentially trade for him.
The only question mark surrounding Realmuto is his defense behind the plate, which has been shaky in his first three seasons. In 2017, he made six errors and allowed 11 passed balls, which put him in the top 10 in the league for the most among catchers. He is also middle-of-the-pack when it comes to throwing out runners attempting to steal. Realmuto ranks 16th among all active catchers in caught stealing percentage (31.67%). His defense is far from exceptional, but whether a team wants to trade for Realmuto depends on how much value they put on a catcher’s defense versus his offensive output.
The Marlins will have plenty of potential trade partners for Realmuto since virtually every team in baseball covets offense from the catcher position. With the exception of Yadier Molina and Buster Posey, there are no sacred cows behind the plate throughout the league. There are several contending teams that will likely pursue Realmuto, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, and Arizona Diamondbacks. All three of these teams are poised to contend in 2018 but also have a weakness at the catcher spot, making them ideal suitors for Realmuto.
The ramifications of the Marlins firesale continue to have a significant impact on the Major League Baseball offseason. Superstar sluggers Stanton and Ozuna have new homes. A young stolen base maverick, Gordon, has joined the fray in Seattle. Now one of the best young catchers in the game is likely to be moved to a contender, which adds even more excitement and intrigue to the upcoming 2018 season.