Dodgers Trade Rumors: Is J.T. Realmuto Worth the Marlins’ Asking Price?

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Even though the Hot Stove has yet to heat up, that does not mean that hot takes and rumors surrounding moves the Dodgers might make aren’t abound.

One of the biggest areas of the rumors surrounds the catching position. Yasmani Grandal, the Dodgers’ primary catcher for the last four years, declined a $17.9 million qualifying offer to stay in Los Angeles. That leaves the Dodgers with Austin Barnes, Kyle Farmer, and some pretty darn good, yet not quite ready catching prospects.

While Barnes took over the job from Grandal in both of the last two playoff runs, is he good enough to be the every day catcher? Probably not, and the Dodgers are looking elsewhere to find a suitable replacement and gap filler until prospect Will Smith is ready to take over the position, most likely not until 2020.

The biggest name the rumor mill has tied the Dodgers to is J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins. He has made it clear that he would like to get out of Miami, and the Dodgers have been said to have definite interest in the 27-year-old Oklahoma native. Last season, he slashed .277/.340/.484 with 30 doubles, 21 homers and 74 RBI. He also cut down 21 of 55 would-be base stealers—more than Grandal and Barnes combined.

But what would it take to get the right handed catcher to Los Angeles? David Vassegh discussed on AM 570 that the Marlins wish to start with Cody Bellinger, plus another high end player such as Yasiel Puig or Alex Verdugo, in addition to a prospect or two. As we discussed in Monday’s column, Bellinger is definitely on the hands off list as far as trades go. The Marlins, of course, know the Dodgers are very interested, and are going to swing for the fences in their request for return. There is not a huge amount of top tier catchers available at the moment, thus driving the price for Realmuto up.

So what would a fair trade be for both sides? As much as I love the man, and have written multiple times about never wanting to trade him, Yasiel Puig does make sense. He’s a dynamic player, has a home already in Miami, and South Florida has a strong Cuban community. He would be embraced by the fans. And he’s under tam conrol for just one more year. The only issue I can see would be Puig and Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who didn’t have the greatest relationship when Mattingly was the skipper in L.A.

The Marlins would most likely want one of the Dodgers two catching prospects in return. As stated, between he and Kelbert Ruiz, Will Smith is more major league ready. Alex Verdugo is also an option, since the Dodgers have excess in the outfield. Miami would also like pitching, so maybe Dustin May, a right handed pitcher who split time between Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa, or Dennis Santana who spent time with the big team this season before having to undergo surgery. Gavin Lux should not be included, as the Dodgers do not have much depth in prospects in the infield.

Regardless of the combination of players, the Dodgers definitely have the resources to get the trade done. Derek Jeter may be greedy, but Friedman and Company are smarter and more experienced, and will no doubt find a way to make the trade work to their advantage, if they can find it. The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves are both looking into trading for Realmuto themselves. It will be interesting to see if the approach of bargain shopping while keeping the top tier prospects continues to be the front office MO, or if losing two World Series in a row would finally convince them to give a little more to get the Dodgers over the hump.

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22 thoughts on “Dodgers Trade Rumors: Is J.T. Realmuto Worth the Marlins’ Asking Price?

  1. I doubt that Puig would be of interest to the Marlins because of the Mattingly relationship you mentioned and even more so the fact that he has only one year of control remaining. Couple those points with the fact that Puig will probably earn far more than Realmuto next year and those factors will far outweigh the Miami-Cuban connection. It will be interesting to see which team wants him the most and what they’ll ultimately wind up giving the Marlins. No matter what Miami says, I’d bet a hefty sum that he’s traded this winter.

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      1. I think they’d have to consider that and for us we’re trading pieces of which we have an excess (except, some might argue, with Muncy). If we offered this deal, they’d probably come back with Muncy, Smith, May and Toles and the negotiating could begin.

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      2. Admittedly a small sample size but considering how poorly Smith did at OKC at the end of the year, I’m not ready to turn over the future permanent first string catcher’s job to him. Of course, Ruiz hasn’t gotten to OKC yet so he might do even worse. I wonder if the front office has made a definite decision as to which card they want to play on that one, because they’re almost certainly going to have to give up one of them sooner or later. Rank the following 1 through 3 in terms of whom you value most highly: Santana, Ferguson, May.

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      3. Since I like this trade offer, it probably means it would be a non-starter for the Marlins. This would help solve some of the 40 man roster crunch for the Dodgers as well.

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  2. Please explain why signing Grandal is not possible or warranted? Despite some defensive lapses, his offense is still better than any other available catchers except Realmuto. We would have to give up a lot of value to get Realmuto. With Grandal it’s only money. Likely, at least one of the prospects we have will eventually be a decent major leaguer, but there are no guarantees. The people we don’t trade to get a catcher would likely be of great value in trade for other needs.

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    1. The estimates I’ve seen for Grandal’s ultimate contract range from 3/40 to 4/60 with some actually wondering if he could get a contract similar to the one McCann signed with the Astros in 2014 (5/85). I can see your point about saving prospects for other needs but I don’t think Friedman would be willing to match other offers when he has two prospects which most people feel will be very good and will be ready within the next 12-24 months.

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  3. actually he is the only attractive free agent catcher on the market. you can count on your fingers the above average
    catchers in the league. thats why its imperative that we try to sign him at most any cost. a couple of league average players and some prospects is a small price to pay for a all star. then go aggressivly to extend him. i shutter to think
    that we go foreward hoping on a couple of low minor prospects. thats the kiss of death.

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  4. Problem is the Marlins are asking for more than league average players and “some prospects” or he wouldn’t be a Marlin any longer. Apparently they’re asking for top of the line, super duper prospects and so far no one has been willing to do that. He’ll definitely be traded this winter. The question is, which team with very good prospects will be the most desperate to get him, keeping in mind that said team would value an excellent catcher with 2 years of control over whatever else they could get with their very best prospects.

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  5. When looking at stat comparisons between Realmuto and Grandal I’m somewhat surprised how, on many levels, they are similar. They project ‘19 around .800 OPS, which is the bottom line for most GMs when evaluating offense. Grandal will hit a few more home runs, which everybody likes, and he will strike out more, which nobody seems to mind these days. Grandal grades out (dWAR) a bit better defensively but I don’t buy it. Passed balls, inconsistent blocking techniques, periodic diminishing miasmic brain cloud vapors…. he never has impressed me defensively. The fWAR projections for both are 3.7. The question that came to my mind was – would I trade all that I’ve seen mentioned here for Yasmani Grandal… and the answer is “hell no”.

    I’d be very careful about this move for Realmuto. Depending on what we do elsewhere, we may not need him. Barnes is plenty good defensively and I predict he will have a better year at the plate. He can bat 8th, handle the staff, stop anything from getting to the backstop and I’m ok with him as first string catcher. That allows us to spend the resources on pitching and middle order hitting.

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    1. How could you spew such garbage Scoop? And the thing that bothers me most about your argument is that it actually makes some sense. I find that the mush which serves as my brain is far too easily swayed by a well-written commentary. I’m hoping that someone will have a counter-point to your blasphemy so that I can once again hop totally committed on to the Realmuto bandwagon. If you’ve also managed to convince the front office with your logic, this would be the perfect time for Andrew to pull a Muncy-like catcher out of the hat.

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      1. I’ve been trying to think FAZonian for a few years now Jeff. It’s helped keep my therapist busy. At first I was very critical of how they did things, but even with the often bewildering signings- Anderson, Latos, Beachy, McCarthy’s – the Cuban Fizzle Crisis’ ….somehow it worked. And when it did, all I could muster was an “ok, you didn’t completely ef it up” ….. I watched as it worked it again. I’m still not on board with all FAZthink, but in general I get what it is they are doing. It makes sense to me that they will be interested in Realmuto because of course they would be. I’m certainly not against the idea, but my gut tells me they will not overbid for him (someone will) and will instead look to keep the top prospects and find fWAR somewhere else. The bottom line here is that I don’t believe these are “big splash” guys. They do it their way, developing prospects, working the margins, finding the hidden spin rate and launch angle gems and leaving the high bidding wars, including $300 million+ contracts to the other guys. And I’m still unclear why it is they’ve announced this early they intend to stay under the cap, but it feels to me something could be brewing under the surface. We’ll see.

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  6. Hey scoop, with anthopolos, and Zaidi gone, you’re going to have to come up with a new acronym for the front office. I hope we don’t over pay for Realmuto, if it is a fair deal ok, but I would rather over pay to shore up the pitching, and look for a stop gap at catcher. Our starters can be good, now let’s build a shut down bullpen. Back to Dennis’s plan of going hard after Rivero, and if they can get Cervelli in the deal also, so much the better. Those two may be cheaper to acquire than Realmuto by himself.

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    1. Yeah Keith, if Vazquez and Cervilli are both available I could see the Dodgers in on that. The Pirates could do each individually and get a great prospects haul, but we could give them ML players AND prospects.

      Friedman is the leader of the band. It’s his formula. He’ll just find another algorithm junkie and move forward with the same game plan.

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    2. We lose Anthopoulos last year and Farhan this year and Andrew says maybe I’ll get around to replacing Farhan one of these days and never did replace Anthopoulos. What do you think Keith? Is Andrew making all the decisions and just paying the other guys to sit around, look pretty, and nod their heads in the affirmative to all his moves?

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  7. Jeff, I think the stat department is making the line up for doc, and making the decisions for Andrew. We could wipe out the coaching staff, and the front office, by hiring a couple more guys with glasses, and pocket protectors.( just kidding, shame on me for stereo typing) sometimes I think I’m close to being right about who really runs this team.

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