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MLB Trade Rumors: J.T. Realmuto wants out of the Marlins’ rebuild

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Run, J.T., RUN to a more competitive franchise!

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The Miami Marlins front office spoke to Giancarlo Stanton about their desire to rebuild earlier this offseason, and he ultimately agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Now, J.T. Realmuto is seeing the beginning of it and prefers to play elsewhere, too, according to Sirius XM’s Craig Mish:

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed that report on Monday morning. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro clarifies that Realmuto didn’t personally make any demands, but dropped a hint through his representatives.

The catcher is coming off a breakout year at age 26. He batted .278/.332/.451 (105 wRC+) in 141 games, establishing new career highs in home runs (17), runs batted in (68), Wins Above Replacement (3.6 fWAR) and various other categories.

As a trade candidate, Realmuto ought to be even more desirable than those stats would suggest. MLB Trade Rumors projects a modest $4.2 million salary for him in 2018, and he’ll remain under team control for two more seasons beyond that. He has a unique skill set at a premium defensive position, but those skills—despite being extremely valuable—tend to be under-appreciated by the arbitration process. Any of the 29 other MLB teams could realistically construct a competitive roster around a starting backstop at that price tag.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Through four major league seasons, Realmuto has consistently struggled during games at Marlins Park. Although its reputation as a pitcher-friendly venue is well deserved, his home/road splits—.237/.280/.365, 14 HR in 204 home games; .319/.360/.485, 24 HR in 211 road games—are almost unprecedented in franchise history. Whatever the reasons for that trend, it’s hard to blame him for seeking a different environment.

Center fielder Christian Yelich also seems to be “thinking” about his future in South Florida, as expressed on Twitter in reaction to the Stanton trade. Rosenthal hears that he’ll have an opportunity to discuss those feelings directly with management before possibly following his teammate’s example.

Insider reports leading up to and during last week’s Winter Meetings did not indicate that the Marlins were shopping Realmuto, or even that they had received formal trade offers for him. Even if the club decides to honor his request, there isn’t any urgency to rush the negotiations.