In a surprising report, the San Diego Padres are reportedly in talks with the Miami Marlins in regard to catcher J.T. Realmuto. With two competent catchers on the roster, should the Padres try to make a push for the catcher?
On Twitter, Jim Bowden, former general manager and current staff writer for the Athletic, caused a bit of a stir amongst the Padre faithful with his tweet saying that, according to sources, one team that is “in” on Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto is, in fact, the San Diego Padres.
Amongst other teams that Bowden claims are also “in” are the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Tampa Bay Rays.
With the Mets seemingly making an “all-in” push and the Phillies and Braves expecting to make a playoff push, one would undoubtedly scratch their head at the fact that the Padres are competing to acquire Realmuto. After all, they already have Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia expected to share playing time at the catching position and with the Marlins setting an understandably high asking price in regard to a trade, so why the interest from A.J. Preller?
This is not to say that Realmuto isn’t worthy of such a high asking price. The 27-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons, hitting .277/.340/.483 with a wRC+ of 126 and a war of 4.8.
Realmuto’s ISO rating jumped to .208 thanks to an increase in his line drive and fly ball percentage (22.8% and 37.4% respectively), while his hard contact rate jumped from 33.3% in 2017 to 38.5% in 2018. All of this culminated in a career-high 21 home runs for Realmuto, as well as an appearance in the 2018 All-Star Game and a Silver Slugger.
Sources: Still “in" on J.T.Realmuto: NYM, PHI, SD, ATL, TB….not as aggressive but “in” are LA, COL, Milw, Hous, CWS
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) December 7, 2018
Realmuto is no slouch behind the plate. He is regarded as a plus pitch framer and game manager, while he threw out 38% (21 out of 55) of would-be base stealers in 2018. In comparison, Hedges threw out 22% (13 out of58) behind the dish and Mejia threw out 29% (12 out of 42) between the Minors and the Majors.
Realmuto is no doubt an exceptional catcher, arguably the best in the game today. For that reason, the Marlins have slapped a very expensive price tag on him and have let other teams know that he won’t come cheap. For instance, when Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen called to play ball with Miami, the Marlins made it clear that a package would have to include one or more of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and possibly Amed Rosario. All of those are former top prospects who have graduated to the Majors and whose young careers have only just begun.
Now, imagine if AJ Preller wants to strike a deal with the Marlins for Realmuto. Not only would Miami ask for one of Hedges or Mejia in the trade, but also one of the Padres’ prized top-five prospects, including one or multiple of Fernando Tatis Jr. Luis Urias, Mackenzie Gore, and/or Chris Paddack (Mejia is ranked between Gore and Urias in the top five). Not to mention Miami would want at least one other Major League player as well as one or two lower-level prospects, and the asking price may be too high even for the Padres’ liking.
One theory as to why San Diego is interested in Realmuto is not because they want him; it is that the Mets do. The Mets have Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki as their primary catchers and New York has let it be known that they are searching for an upgrade. New York was also heavily shopping ace starter Noah Syndergaard and it seemed like there was steam building for a potential San Diego-New York trade involving Syndergaard. Those talks seemed to have lost steam, but if the Padres were to acquire Realmuto, who is to say Preller won’t re-engage talk with Van Wagenen for a blockbuster deal involving Realmuto and Syndergaard?
This is, of course, just a wildly ambitious theory that is the definition of “shot in the dark”. Realmuto is a great player, but the Padres already have in-house options and they can use their prospects to acquire a player at a position of need. In the endgame, San Diego may have to take a hard “no” with Realmuto.