We’re all getting impatient with this J.T. Realmuto situation. Midway between the end of the 2018 regular season and Opening Day 2019, the Marlins’ most obvious trade candidate doesn’t seem particularly close to changing uniforms.
Source: #Astros still interested in J.T. Realmuto, but #Marlins have yet to move off Forrest Whitley or Kyle Tucker as the centerpiece of a possible trade. Thus, there’s been no traction in trade discussions. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 29, 2018
Houston has won more than 100 games in each of the past two seasons. Hungry to maintain that standard of excellence, they’ve been among the most active American League teams during an otherwise slow-paced winter. Signings of free agents Michael Brantley and Robinson Chirinos helped, but the Astros aren’t content yet—Juan Toribio of The Athletic identified them as a finalist in the bidding for new Twins slugger Nelson Cruz, and Marc Carig hears that Mets reliever Seth Lugo is a trade target.
The only other available catcher who’s performance is somewhat comparable to Realmuto is Yasmani Grandal. However, signing him would restrict Houston’s payroll flexibility, as Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets wasn’t enough. Meanwhile, the Marlins All-Star is projected for a modest $6.1 million salary in 2019 with another season of arbitration eligibility after that.
Earlier in the week, Jon Morosi included the Padres, Dodgers, Rays and Reds as teams that remain in the mix for Realmuto. Respectfully disagreeing with commenter jgeiger, there is no real incentive for the Fish to rush to a resolution until one of these suitors blows their socks off. It’s a seller’s market.
A centerpiece like outfielder Kyle Tucker or right-hander Forrest Whitley would meet the “blows their socks off” standard, as explained here. These are the kind of can’t-miss talents—consensus Top 10 MLB prospects—currently lacking from the Marlins farm system. Tucker and Whitley both have long big league careers ahead of them with the potential to be just as valuable as Realmuto if they reach their ceilings.
Recognizing that the Astros have championship-or-bust expectations this coming year, the Marlins should hold firm to their lofty asking price.