Opinion Pieces

Top Trade Targets: Catcher

J.T. Realmuto, Catcher

After trading away franchise cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton and All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna this winter, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has also reportedly requested a trade out of Miami. After kicking off a full-fledged firesale, it makes sense that the Marlins backstop would want to get out of Miami, given that the team has virtually no chance of being competitive for the foreseeable future. However, the Marlins may be less open to trading away Realmuto compared to their other proven commodities. For one, Realmuto has yet to reach arbitration so the Marlins would not be breaking the bank by keeping him around. Secondly, he has emerged as one of the top defensive catchers in the game, which could aid the development of the Marlins young pitchers.

Not only is Realmuto above average in shutting down the running game (he threw out 33.7% of runners last season, which is 5% above the league average), he also ranked among the best catchers in the game in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt, according to Baseball Prospectus. Overall, he ranked sixth in Fielding Runs Above Average, which is a comprehensive metric that measures catchers defensive performance.

Offensively, Realmuto has been one of the most consistently productive catchers in the MLB since entering the league. Out of all catchers with at least 1,000 plate appearances in the last three seasons, Realmuto ranks 8th in wRC+. Realmuto is also the rare catcher that can run the bases as he ranks first in MLB catchers in both BsR (baserunning runs), stolen bases, and Statcast sprint speed. His durability (second among catchers in games played over the last three seasons), and consistent production combine to make him the second most valuable catcher in the MLB over the last three seasons, trailing only Buster Posey.

Despite all of this, there is also an argument as to why it makes sense for the Marlins to trade him away. With three years of team control, the prospect haul the Marlins could expect in return will never be higher than it is right now. Given that the Marlins cannot expect to compete for at least the next three seasons, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to keep him around at a time when their window for contention is completely closed. Attendance at Marlins Park is already going to be extremely low and as good as Realmuto is, he is not the type of player that fans are going to flock to the ballpark to see. If the Marlins are going to go all-in on their rebuild, it only makes sense that Realmuto is one of the next players to go.

Possible Suitors: Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

Possible Trade:

Angels Receive:
J.T. Realmuto (C)

Marlins Receive:
Brandon Marsh (OF) (#5 Prospect)
Michael Hermosillo (OF) (#10 Prospect)
Jesus Castillo (RHP) (#15 Prospect)

The Angels have been one of the most active teams in baseball this otherwise slow Winter. Not only did they sign the most sought-after international free agent in recent memory in Shohei Ohtani, they also filled holes at both second and third base by bringing aboard Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. Even with all the additions, they still look project to be a distant second in the AL West behind the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros.

If the Angels are going to dethrone Houston, they will need to make at least one more major move, and acquiring one of the best catchers in the game may be just what the doctor ordered. Last season, the Halos ranked 24th in baseball in catchers WAR, and their current projections at the position don’t inspire a ton of hope for the upcoming season.

For the Angels to entice the Marlins into trading away Realmuto, they will need to offer a robust package of prospects. Luckily for the Angels, their farm system looks better now than it has for years. Some may argue that trading away prospects right as the system finally is improving would prove costly in the long term, and admittedly, they are probably right. However, Mike Trout is only signed for three more seasons, so now is the time to be aggressive.

Headlining this deal is Brennan Marsh, who ranked as the 88th overall prospect in baseball according to Keith Law’s recently released list of the Top 100 prospects. Marsh is a former second-round pick, who receives raving reports from scouts for his athleticism and receives above-average grades in center field. He has to improve his approach at the plate, but he has a high ceiling as a two way player.

The second piece in this deal is another toolsy outfielder named Michael Hermosillo. He can play all three outfield positions and has a plus arm, with many scouts believing he can stick in center field long-term. Hermosillo is still very raw, evidenced by his lack of a mature approach at the plate and dead pull tendencies. He made it all the way up to Triple-A in 2017 and with more seasoning, he could see big league time as early as 2018, possibly as a September call-up.

Last on the list of prospects going to the Marlins is right-hander Jesus Castillo. Castillo was acquired by the Angels in 2016 in a trade that sent Joe Smith to the Cubs at the trade deadline. He posted impressive numbers across three levels (Low-A, High-A, and Double-A) last season and should see big league time sooner rather than later. His stuff is probably not as good as his numbers suggest, but at the very least he projects as a high-upside middle reliever at the big league level.  

Other Trade Candidates:
Yasmani Grandal

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About Traven Tapson

I am a recent graduate from Claremont McKenna College pursuing a career in baseball operations for an MLB team. I am fascinated by the analytical side of baseball and use this blog as a platform to share my insights and knowledge with those who share my curiosities.
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