MLB Trade Rumors: J.T. Realmuto Trade a Fallback Plan for Phillies?

As Bryce Harper and Manny Machado continue to mull offers, so do the Miami Marlins with catcher J.T. Realmuto, the subject of many a trade rumor this offseason.

The Phillies, according to reports from Ken Rosenthal and Tim Brown, have recently checked back in with the Marlins about the All-Star catcher.

It's no surprise. The Phillies stay in contact with teams and investigate all avenues of improvement. They've checked in this offseason with almost all of the top players available in free agency or via trade.

A deal is not viewed as imminent. It's tough to gauge whether the Phillies want to be aggressive in trading for Realmuto or view him as more of a fallback plan if they're unable to land Machado or Harper. 

This could also be the Marlins playing the leverage game and making it known the Phillies are interested so the Dodgers up their offer.

Realmuto is a very good player, even if he's not a star the caliber of Machado or Harper. Realmuto's value is more of the all-around variety and based on his position. 

Catchers don't hit these days. 

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In 2018, only four catchers with at least 300 plate appearances had an OPS over .800: Wilson Ramos, Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal and Francisco Cervelli. Ramos was the only catcher to hit over .285. Only six had an on-base percentage higher than .340.

Realmuto can hit for average with some power, gets on base at an above-average rate, is one of the fastest catchers in baseball and a good defender. 

He also has more offensive ability than he's been able to show with bad Marlins teams in an uncommonly large stadium. Looking strictly at the distance and location of his batted balls last season, between 15 and 20 of Realmuto's deep flyouts and lineouts would have been extra-base hits - half of them home runs - at Citizens Bank Park. 

Realmuto will be expensive for any team to acquire. The Dodgers have been the team most closely connected to him this offseason and for good reason: They lost Grandal to the Brewers and are slated to open the season with 29-year-old catcher/infielder Austin Barnes behind the plate, where his career-high in games caught at any level is 78.

A competitive offer from the Phillies would likely involve Jorge Alfaro and a top pitching prospect, a Sixto Sanchez or Spencer Howard-type. 

Realmuto, due $5.9 million in 2019 with one more arbitration year before hitting free agency after the 2020 season, is that strong an asset.

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