It’s not so much a question of whether the Houston Astros are “back in the mix” for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported Tuesday morning, but if they ever lost interest in the first place.
The #Astros are back in the mix for #Marlins J.T. Realmuto. Top prospect Kyle Tucker remains a target for a potential deal. The #Padres also have interest, along with #Dodgers #Rays and more. Hard to say if there is a frontrunner at this point. Multiple teams involved.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) December 18, 2018
Dating back to last offseason, the 2017 World Series champs seemed like an ideal fit. Even with November’s signing of Robinson Chirinos, rest assured that a 34-year-old who has never come close to a qualified season won’t be blocking Realmuto in Houston.
Kyle Tucker’s name should ring a bell. He was reportedly requested by the Marlins when these teams last had active conversations. Miami fans are understandably fatigued about the organization compiling so many outfielders, but the Tampa native’s upside and major league readiness would immediately vault him above Brinson, Mesa, Harrison, etc.
An updated scouting report per Baseball America (subscription required and recommended):
Tucker finally found a level that he wasn’t ready for when he reached Houston. He had dominated every level of the minors with plus, all-fields power and excellent hand-eye coordination that allows his swing to work. In the big leagues, he proved an easier-than-expected mark for quality breaking balls. Tucker projects as a middle-of-the-order bat who can be a plus hitter with plus power. He has already started to slow down and scouts were not always impressed with Tucker’s effort level, noting that he often jogged down the line. His once-average speed slid to below-average in 2018. That limits him in the outfield, but he should be average in either corner. His average arm is playable in right field.
The Astros are close to finalizing a two-year deal with free agent Michael Brantley. Though that wouldn’t make Tucker totally “expendable” to them, Realmuto has a much stronger track record at a higher-priority defensive position. If the Marlins were to accept a Tucker-led package without demanding another big asset, you’d think a team in win-now mode would pull the trigger.
Of course, Tucker has been aware of the rumors. From Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle:
“I see it. I don’t have any control over it and it’s not like I can do anything about it. I just sort of let it go—whatever happens, happens—but I’m happy with the Astros.”
The goal for Michael Hill and Co. is to hold firm to their extreme asking price with at least three other teams still in hot pursuit. They want a future superstar and other good stuff.
The Marlins are pushing to get resolution on Realmuto, and ideally, they would like something to get done before Christmas. But that isn’t a firm deadline. Miami also is willing to stand pat and not force a trade if its asking price is not matched.
That being said, let’s not get too pompous: a Realmuto trade does need to happen by Opening Day 2019. He and the Marlins are hilariously far apart in contract extension negotiations, and there will not come another point between now and his free-agent eligibility when so many teams are desperately seeking an upgrade at catcher.
Keep a tab open to Fish Stripes for continuing coverage of this developing situation...