With arguably the best catcher in the majors available for trade, the Miami Marlins will be one of the teams to watch at the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings.
The Marlins, who are entering Year 2 of a full rebuild, will be an active “seller” at the Winter Meetings because of J.T. Realmuto’s trade value.
Miami’s lone All-Star in 2018 took home the National League’s Silver Slugger award for catchers. In his breakout year, the 27-year-old hit .277 in 2018 with career highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (74) in 125 games for the Marlins. His recent performance combined with the lack of catching star power in the majors right now makes him one of the most valued trade targets as the meetings approach Dec. 9-13 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
But why would the Marlins want to trade their highest-value player? The Fish reportedly offered Realmuto two contract extensions during his breakout season. Both proposals were countered, but the two sides remained very far apart in terms of contract length and average annual value. They have not made any progress to a deal since then.
Multiple teams are willing to trade with the Marlins for the coveted Realmuto, but the Marlins’ asking price remains high. The New York Mets have been the most aggressive in pursuing Realmuto.
The Mets are willing to offer one of their three core players—Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario—for the Marlins’ backstop. According to MLB Network’s Jim Bowden, the Marlins would either need Conforto or Rosario included in the trade to start talks with their NL East rivals.
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) December 5, 2018
#Marlins want at least one controllable major-league asset as centerpiece for Realmuto. #Mets have Conforto/Nimmo/Rosario, but would need to replace whoever they traded in FA market or other deals. Teams engaged. NYM aggressive. https://t.co/j1fpxsCNEl
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2018
Sources indicate Braves discussions with Marlins for Realmuto include a pkg built around 3B Austin Riley & P Michael Soroka. Marlins are still listening to offers from other clubs.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 4, 2018
Keep in mind, the Marlins will also likely “buy” at this year’s Winter Meetings to address several other roster concerns.
They had the worst bullpen ERA in the majors in 2018 at an abysmal 5.34 ERA. Some of the top free-agent candidates to strengthen a young bullpen include Adam Ottavino (age 33), Joakim Soria (35), Jeurys Familia (29), David Robertson (34), and Oliver Perez (37). Long-time Marlin-killer Tyler Clippard (34) is on the free agent market as well. Any one of those names mentioned should bring both late-game experience and a veteran presence. The Marlins bullpen will develop with time, but it needs a veteran to mentor and stabilize the hard-throwing bullpen.
Thursday’s Fish Stripes roundtable offered plenty of other possible fits.
The Marlins began to address their power issue by signing former Pittsburgh Pirates first-baseman Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez, 32, accepted a minor league deal with an invite to spring training last week. Alvarez will compete with Peter O’Brien and Garrett Cooper for the starting first-base job in spring training.
The Winter Meetings will conclude with the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 13. For the time being, the Marlins’ 40-man roster is full, so they would need to make room between now and then in order to participate in the major league phase of the draft.