Nearly three months since J.T. Realmuto’s agent, Jeff Berry, predicted a trade, the hot stove has heated up to accommodate all parties involved. The Dodgers entered “intensive [ongoing] talks” with the Marlins on Thursday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, only to be joined by the Padres on Friday:
Realmuto talks are said to be gaining momentum, with the Dodgers and Padres believed most prominent in discussions at moment. LA has the need and the young players to trade (Verdugo, etc.) and is logical. Reds, Braves, Astros among others with interest.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 25, 2019
Why now? Outfielder A.J. Pollock agreed to terms with L.A. on a long-term deal. Despite trading Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to Cincinnati earlier this offseason, they still have a surplus of quality, controllable major league outfielders. In particular, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo would be desirable targets for the Marlins in negotiations (no, Cody Bellinger is unrealistic—the Dodgers greatly value his versatility).
They acquired veteran Russell Martin from the Blue Jays earlier in the month. Martin earned plenty of accolades with the Dodgers during his first stint with the organization (All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger), but that was a loooooong time ago. Turning 36 shortly and entering the final year of his contract, he profiles more as a back-up on a postseason contender. The free-agent market doesn’t feature any catchers who can offer anything close to Realmuto’s production.
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported Wednesday that Keibert Ruiz was discussed by these teams recently. The 20-year-old ranks as MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 catching prospect. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus have Ruiz as their No. 20 and No. 31 overall prospect, respectively. He would immediately vault to the top of the Marlins organization’s list if acquired.
The Padres would make for an intriguing trade partner, too. They boast the consensus No. 1 farm system in Major League Baseball. It’s led by dynamic shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. Though he is likely “untouchable” in any potential trade, the Marlins could pivot to left-handed pitchers and have their pick of controllable young catchers (either Francisco Mejía or Austin Hedges).
After missing the postseason for 12 straight years, San Diego seems determined to end the drought. Aside from Realmuto, they are in on superstar Manny Machado, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. These are ideal circumstances for the Marlins to pressure them into an overpay.
Another signal that a trade is likely, Heyman identifies the Marlins as a Nick Markakis suitor. The veteran outfielder ultimately decided to re-sign with the Braves for one year, $6 million (with a 2020 club option). Realmuto will earn a $5.9 million salary in 2019, so Miami seems prepared to reallocate that money to another accomplished player, preferably a left-handed bat, per multiple reports.
Marlins pitchers and catchers are due to report to Spring Training on Feb. 13.
For now, let’s see your best trade proposals...
Hypothetical trade:— Luis Davila (@luisrdavi) January 24, 2019
Dodgers get: JT Realmuto
Marlins get: Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, & Dustin May
Would you accept?