Just when some fans think the Dodgers are zeroing in on a certain right-handed hitting, free agent outfielder, another rumor surfaces and throws everybody for a loop.
Smack dab in the middle of all the Hall of Fame proceedings on Tuesday, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com published a column noting that Los Angeles is continuing discussions with the Marlins about a potential deal for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
This time, however, Miami is apparently asking for a package centered around minor league catcher Keibert Ruiz.
In much of the chatter before Christmas, the Marlins were believed to have wanted Cody Bellinger as the centerpiece of a prospective deal.
Frisaro states that as many as 14 different clubs have been engaged in talks surrounding Realmuto. According to his report, the Dodgers, Rays, Padres, Astros, Braves and Reds are believed to be the most active.
As far as catchers go, Realmuto’s numbers speak for themselves. Last year, he slashed .277/.340/.484 with 30 doubles, 21 long balls and 74 RBI. And, he threw out 21 of 55 would-be base-stealers—a number almost better than Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes combined. All those numbers led to a 4.3 WAR, which was tops for all MLB catchers.
Steamer has the 27-year-old Oklahoma native projected for a 3.6 WAR in 2019, slashing .267/.323/.436 with 16 long balls and 58 RBI over 125 games.
Realmuto is set to earn $5.9 million during the 2019 season and remains under team control through 2020.
The 20-year-old Ruiz is currently ranked as the second-best prospect in the Los Angeles system, according to MLB Pipeline. He spent all his time at Double-A Tulsa last year, where he hit .268/.328/.401 with 12 long balls in an extremely pitcher-friendly Texas League. The switch-hitting native of Venezuela was named to the club’s 40-man roster in November, which means he’s almost guaranteed big league action in September of 2019. We took an in-depth look at Ruiz as recently as last March.
In spite of Ruiz’s many accolades, though, some pundits still have Will Smith with the higher ceiling. Smith is a significantly better athlete than most catchers, with many scouts giving him plus grades for his speed and quickness, much like Barnes. Offensively, Smith was impressive at the Double-A level last year, but struggled down the stretch when he was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Recently, we took a close look at Smith after he was named the best defensive player in the Los Angeles minor league system.
It may also be worth noting that along with Ruiz, the Marlins could conceivably be asking for the inclusion of Barnes. Fisaro indicated that there are only two catchers on the entire Miami 40-man roster—Realmuto and Chad Wallach.
The 27-year-old Wallach is the son of Miami bench coach Tim Wallach and played 15 big league games for the Fish last season, going 8-for-45 with a homer and a double.