6:18 PM PT Update
The top seven suitors for J.T. Realmuto, according to Jon Heyman: Dodgers, Mets, Padres, Astros, Phillies, Yankees and Braves. Long way to go to resolve this!
6:07 PM PT Update
Mike Hill finally addresses this exciting situation (sort of):
#Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill wouldn’t say anything specific on the J.T. Realmuto trade rumors. Said there’s been “significant interest” from other teams.— Wells Dusenbury (@DuseReport) December 11, 2018
3:16 PM PT Update
No Realmuto deal is close, SiriusXM/Five Reasons Sports host Craig Mish reports. Though he notes that in ongoing talks between the Marlins and Braves, left-hander Sean Newcomb has been mentioned as a piece of the return package.
That’s...odd. Newcomb flirted with a no-hitter in July, but otherwise struggled mightily to throw strikes late last season (3.90 ERA/4.14 FIP in 164.0 IP overall). Aside from Wei-Yin Chen, the Marlins have a deficit of lefty starting pitching candidates on their 40-man roster, so maybe that’s contributing to their interest?
Entering his age-26 campaign, Newcomb does not profile as a headliner. Still, he’s a controllable player who shouldn’t be entirely overlooked.
2:22 PM PT Update
The Marlins are well-stocked with outfield prospects already, but the 22-year-old Alex Verdugo would be a welcome addition anyway:
Alex Verdugo is a very good talent but the Dodgers seem willing to include him in a big deal, surely Realmuto and probably Kluber or Bauer. Verdugo would fit the Marlins or Indians, who both need an OF— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
Don’t overreact to Verdugo’s mediocrity at the plate in the big leagues (.240/.309/.360)—that comes from a microscopic 111-plate appearance sample size. MLB Pipeline considers him “one of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball” and No. 1 overall in the Dodgers organization.
Throughout this process, the National League champs have seemed like a logical landing spot for Realmuto. Their longtime primary catcher Yasmani Grandal is a free agent and Austin Barnes suffered a big regression in 2018, casting doubt about his ability to handle an expanded workload.
That being said, as included in Jon Heyman’s tweet, the Dodgers have their hands in several different pots at the Winter Meetings. If Verdugo goes elsewhere in a different blockbuster trade, perhaps the Marlins would seek catcher Keibert Ruiz as the centerpiece of their return package.
9:47 AM PT Update
Conflicting with an earlier report from The Athletic, the Marlins have “slightly lowered” their trade demands since the 2018 season ended, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman adds that the industry understands Miami’s urgency to make a move while the All-Star is so valuable, forcing Michael Hill and Co. to be more reasonable.
The Mets privately feel that acquiring Realmuto is “a long shot” despite their new GM’s commitment to short-term roster upgrades. Sherman names free agent Martin Maldonado as an alternate target.
8:43 AM PT Update
Jon Heyman of Fancred weighs in on the opportunities for J.T. Realmuto to remain inside the NL East:
Funny that Marlins have said they’d prefer to trade Realmuto out of the division, and they just can’t chase those teams out. They know him best. Mets and Phils r involved, Braves not completely out. Nats, who chased hardest over last year, are the 1 nl east team not in.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
It could prove to be a clever negotiating tactic—insisting that they’d rather have Realmuto outside the division, putting the onus on those rivals to change their mind with overwhelming packages.
Although J.T. Realmuto has been on the trading block throughout 2018, the Marlins haven’t budged on their high asking price. That approach has made me uneasy at times, but according to multiple reports, it’s serving them well—he continues to draw interest from a wide variety of suitors.
Sunday’s article covered several major developments to his market, so get caught up on that if you haven’t already.
We lead off Monday’s coverage with a focus on one specific potential trade partner: the San Diego Padres. Jim Bowden was first to identify them as being involved in negotiations, with The Athletic’s Dennis Lin describing their interest in greater detail (subscription required):
Sources, meanwhile, say the Padres believe in Realmuto’s ability as a rare impact player — and his potential to be just that in San Diego. But given the high price tag and limited control, it remains to be seen how fervently they pursue a deal. The Padres likely would be content to go forward with [Francisco] Mejía, [Austin] Hedges or, for the time being, both.
It should be noted, though, that the Padres’ interest in one of the game’s premier catchers predates their July acquisition of Mejía. That trade seemingly has not decreased their interest.
All talent evaluators agree: the Padres have built one of MLB’s best farm systems in terms of both high upside and depth. If general manager A.J. Preller is motivated, he should be able to outbid anybody for Realmuto. Aside from shortstop phenom Fernando Tatís Jr., there are no untouchables.
On the other hand, the Marlins might feel reluctant to do business with Preller. His front office swindled them in 2016’s midseason trade that swapped Fernando Rodney for Chris Paddack. Of even greater concern, the teams were forced to rework a deadline deal when Preller provided faulty medical records for right-hander Colin Rea, whose elbow gave out during his very first appearance in Miami. Former Fish executive David Samson recently alleged rampant medical fraud in a tell-all interview on Dan Le Batard’s radio show (h/t Barry Jackson, Miami Herald).
Early Monday morning, colleague Ken Rosenthal confirmed that the Marlins continue to hold firm on their sky-high asking price. “Koufax, DiMaggio and Ted Williams in return,” one of his club sources says jokingly.
Every single day until the Marlins finally pull the trigger on a Realmuto trade, I’ll be publishing and updating an article like this. You can find them all here.