An amazing first half of the 2018 season has vaulted Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (.310/.365/.536, 145 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR) from nice complementary player to MLB All-Star and face of the franchise. The baseball industry is gradually recognizing that.
The annual FanGraphs “Trade Value” series attempts to rank the most valuable assets in the sport—minor league prospects are eligible, too—leading up to the July 31 deadline. The criteria includes past production, contract status, projections and input from scouts and team executives.
Realmuto had never achieved a top-50 ranking before, but made the leap to 24th on the 2018 edition, as revealed by Kiley McDaniel on Wednesday.
The hole in his game a few years ago was framing, but scouts swore that he was smart, had premium athleticism, and would figure it out. In the meantime, he’s gone from well below average to solid average in that regard. Realmuto is 27, is pacing backstops offensively, and, according to Statcast, features the best sprint speeds at his position by a wide margin, backing up the claims of those scouts. The only reason he isn’t higher is there’s only 2.5 years of control here. That actually fits the timetable of contenders perfectly, though, because paying catchers for a longer period carries some risk due to the rigors of the position (see Lucroy, Jonathan).
McDaniel justifies Realmuto’s placement in the rankings by noting the “enormous gap between him and the next somewhat available option at the position.” Earlier in the article (which covered players between No. 30 and No. 21), he matter-of-factly refers to him as “the no-doubt slam-dunk best catcher in baseball.”
The Marlins are not actively shopping Realmuto at the moment, though there was dialogue with the Nationals and Astros prior to the season. They will at least attempt to iron out a long-term extension with him, perhaps taking a more aggressive stance if the sides can’t find common ground in the coming months.
Another observation from the Trade Value series: look who’s just two spots away!
As a refresher, the Marlins dealt Christian Yelich to the Brewers in January for Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto. All four prospects were viewed as future major leaguers, with Brinson and Harrison flashing All-Star-caliber tools. If seeking a Realmuto trade partner this offseason, the club would be aiming for a comparable package.
Now, let’s hear from you...
The No. 24 ranking for J.T. Realmuto heading into the trade deadline is...
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