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Mayo: Potential J.T. Realmuto trade to Reds involves Jonathan India, Tucker Barnhart

It would be difficult for the Marlins to sell their fans on this long-awaited move if Jonathan India is the best asset coming back in return for Realmuto.

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J.T. Realmuto trade negotiations have dragged on longer than anybody could’ve imagined, but those talks are active and finally getting more specific. Identified by multiple reports as one of the four serious suitors, the Reds are being asked by the Marlins about third baseman Jonathan India, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline. There’s a scenario where veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart would also be included in the package.

The No. 5 overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, India grew up in South Florida. He slashed .240/.380/.433 in his first pro season and ranked 51st on Baseball America’s top MLB prospects list last month.

However, he’s nowhere close to being major league ready. The 22-year-old would likely begin 2019 at the full-season Low-A level, regardless of which organization has him.

Barnhart is a durable, defensive-minded backstop. He has batted .254/.328/.369 (83 wRC+) during parts of five MLB seasons, and 2018 was more of the same. All things considered, he’s roughly an average player at the position on an extremely team-friendly contract:

  • 2019: $2.94 million
  • 2020: $3.94 million
  • 2021: $4.19 million
  • 2022: $7.5 million club option ($500,000 buyout)

Echoing what Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs also reported Saturday, Cincinnati is determined to hold onto blue-chip prospects Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell and Hunter Greene. There are differing opinions on how to rank those players, but the consensus is that the talent drop-off from Senzel/Trammell/Greene/India to the rest of the Reds farm system is steep. So the “lesser prospects” that Mayo refers to wouldn’t substantially enhance this package unless more than one is involved.

Fish Stripes’ own Daniel Martinez, who’s optimistic about India’s all-around potential, is not totally opposed to accepting him as a centerpiece in exchange for Realmuto:

Here is Daniel’s full analysis on a Reds-Marlins trade fit.

The Braves, Dodgers and Padres remain in the Realmuto hunt, each equipped with the impact talent to out-bid Cincinnati if Senzel, Trammell and Greene are actually off the table.

Earlier this offseason, the Marlins reportedly targeted Kyle Tucker of the Astros and Atlanta’s Austin Riley as compensation for Realmuto. Those are elite prospects with the ideal combination of upside and proximity to the big leagues. Shooting for the moon, Miami even asked for controllable stars Cody Bellinger and Ozzie Albies along the way.

With that context, settling for a trade that features India and Barnhart as the main assets would be underwhelming.