Lately, it seems that the market for catcher J.T. Realmuto is beginning to heat up. Mostly, it’s been fueled by speculation that the Mets have him squarely in their sights as their new general manager tries
to act like a team from New York attempts to contend in 2019. Recently, we’ve seen some names floated around the New York area, with players like Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario being mentioned as players that might interest the Marlins. Now, we see that a three team bonanza with Miami and both New York teams has been rumored to be on the docket for this week.
This also goes in conjunction with the fact that the Braves are believed to have offered at least the prospects Austin Riley and Mike Soroka as part of a return for Realmuto.
Sources indicate Braves discussions with Marlins for Realmuto include a pkg built around 3B Austin Riley & P Michael Soroka. Marlins are still listening to offers from other clubs.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 4, 2018
Reading the previously linked article, we come to see that if the Marlins didn’t want to include Soroka, who finished the season on the disabled list with shoulder issues, then the Braves might be willing to include some players considered to be lesser prosects, only more of them. We ALSO know that last January, the Nationals came to check in with the Marlins on Realmuto’s availability only to be told that it would cost them Victor Robles in the lead of a package that would require more players.
So, that gives the teams a sort of framework for what a J.T. Realmuto trade would have to look like:
- Major league ready player(s), or
- Top prospect(s), or
- some combination of both
It’s not like Realmuto isn’t worth it. He was by far the most valuable catcher in the league last year, leading the league in DRC+ for the position, as well as grading out as one of the defensive catcher as well. He’s got two more years worth of team control at very reasonable salaries and has proven durable during his time in Miami. He’s easily one of the more valuable players available on the trade market for all of these reasons and should command a sizable return. If it were Philadelphia, what would that return be?
I posed this type of question on the Twitter machine, asking who people would rather see behind the dish in 2019:
Who would you rather see as the starting catcher for the Phillies in 2019?— Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte) December 6, 2018
The results were surprising, even to me, since Philadelphia has such a high tolerance for prospect development at the major league level. So, if we were to honor the people’s wishes, what would a trade package be to acquire Realmuto?
Let’s start by trying to give what it looks like Miami wants. They want controllable talent coming back. Looks like their would prefer it to be major league ready and cost controlled, so we’ll toss out names like Cesar Hernandez. He’s going to be a free agent in a few years and wouldn’t be around long enough for the next Marlins contender. No, we’re here to talk about names like:
Each of these players comes with at least four years of team control remaining, some with five. They all have talent, most of it just under the surface of a tough rookie season, and they fit most of the criteria it looks like the Marlins are looking for. Now, to sweeten the pot, we’d have to talk prospects because surrendering these players would decimate the depth this team has. Since Realmuto has only two years of control left, I think we can safely say that Sixto Sanchez is off the table. If we’re giving him up, we need to have the player coming back under control for longer. Anyone else though is on the table. With that in mind, would this deal be appealing enough for the Marlins?
Jorge Alfaro, Nick Pivetta, Adonis Medina, another top ten prospect (Spencer Howard?) and a wild card arm for J.T. Realmuto
At first blush, I think this trade is actually pretty good. I wonder if some people are overvaluing Realmuto a bit because of the years of control he has (they should have traded him last year), but he’s still really good. This type of trade lines up pretty well with what they are theoretically looking for. The problem that I keep coming back to is simple: a team like the Mets probably don’t have the minor league prospects that the Phillies have, but their major league talent is probably better than anything the Phillies can offer, especially if someone like Conforto or even Syndergaard is actually on the table. The Braves can beat the Phillies with either major or minor league talent, making them a more suitable trade partner for Miami. We haven’t even begun to talk about what teams like Houston and the other New York can do as many of their players and prospects.
We also aren’t discussing the possibility that Alfaro might end up being better than Realmuto in the long run. Now, I’ll preface this by saying that if the team was interested in upgrading for this season, Realmuto would be the better choice. He is, right now, better than Jorge Alfaro. However, Alfaro showed last year that he is beginning to tap into that potential that had many scouts drooling over the last few years. He has areas that need improvement (strikezone control, blocking, etc.), but these can be learned. He can get better. Should the Phillies be willing to include him in a deal for only two years of control of a player who might not stick around after that?
If the team wanted to move piece to get Realmuto, the only way the conversation starts is if Sanchez is in the deal. I’d be willing to bet that Kingery would have to be involved as well, especially if the Phillies (rightly) don’t discuss Rhys Hoskins. While he would represent an upgrade, there are other positions that need upgrading now that are more urgent. It seems like this deal I proposed could be the start of something good, but unless the team begins talking their best prospect as part of the deal, it’s a better idea for the Phillies to just move on to something else.