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.