The last three seasons have seen Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto establish himself as one of the absolute elite catchers in all of baseball. He’s hit .286/.338/.454 in 1655 PA in that time - good for an impressive 118 OPS+ - and has done so while playing most of his games in a cavernous home park. That has certainly been exemplified by his home/road splits, as he posted a road OPS nearly 100 points higher in 2018 one year after posting an .897 road OPS against just a .633 OPS in Marlins Stadium.
And, since he’s a Marlin, he’s obviously on the trade block, as the ownership of that franchise continues in their teardown of a once-talented squad, having already shipped out Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna in recent years. Despite the fact that the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves have already been connected to Realmuto, it appears the Cincinnati Reds have interest in him now, too, according to SiriusXM’s Craig Mish.
Sources indicate the Cincinnati Reds have jumped into the Realmuto talks. Could be moving up into the candidates to acquire him.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 12, 2018
Realmuto, 28 next March, only has a pair of years of team control remaining, making it a bit of an interesting fit with the Reds, especially when you consider that the Reds only recently locked up catcher Tucker Barnhart to a contract extension that has seemingly turned into a bargain.
Mish went on to dig into the potential cost for the Reds - top outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, which seems like a heckuva lot to give up for two years of a catching upgrade, especially when you consider how badly the Reds need pitching and a centerfielder.
Sources indicate the names possibly in a potential deal would be hilighted by top prospect Taylor Trammell and a catcher. Possibly Barnhart.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 12, 2018
Due largely to Realmuto’s excellence, the Marlins rank second in all MLB in catching fWAR over the last two seasons (8.5), while the Reds check in 17th (3.4). So, the idea that the team could use an upgrade behind the plate is certainly a realistic one, although catching WAR has long been debated as being a poor way to evaluate what goes on behind the plate. As far as pitch framing goes, neither Realmuto nor Barnhart graded out well on Baseball Prospectus’ scale in 2018, meaning that’s not the onus for the potential move here on the Reds end, either.
If you’re confused, you aren’t alone here. Yes, Realmuto would be an upgrade over the catching options the Reds currently have, but considering how little control the team has over him, the cheap in-house option of Barnhart, the cost to acquire him, and the loss of Trammell from a prospect pool that might still be needed to land a pitcher makes this seem like less of a priority than it should be at this juncture. At a projected arb-2 salary of $6.1 million for 2019, Realmuto would add a star caliber player at an inexpensive dollar amount, but I’m still just not sold that it’s the best way to use their resources right now. ESPN’s Keith Law tends to agree, it seems.
if i’m miami and I can get trammell for realmuto I say yes and run out of the reds’ suite faster than the speed of sound so their “wait…” never reaches my ears https://t.co/DTLHd77iro— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 12, 2018
Who knows...maybe there’s a three team deal in the works somehow. Cleveland and the Reds have been in talks around Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, and after trading Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals this year and top catching prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for Brad Hand last year, they could certainly use some cheap catching help. Realmuto to Cleveland, Tucker and Trammell to Miami, and Kluber to the Reds would probably need an additional piece or two to shake out, but it’s not a completely off-base connect of the dots, I don’t think.
Yes, that’s a spitball that just flew by your ear and stuck to the wall. No, I am not about to go to the principal’s office.
Stand back, folks...the stove, it is getting quite hot.