Miami Marlins 2032: One More Year

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 06: Martin Prado #14 and J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins celebrate after scoring runs following a single by Starlin Castro in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 06: Martin Prado #14 and J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins celebrate after scoring runs following a single by Starlin Castro in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

On October 14th, 2031, the Miami Marlins lost their best-of-three wildcard to the Portland Mavericks on a heartbreaking walk off two-RBI double by designated hitter Juan Soto.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto, having just completed his 17th full major league season, was feeling every one of his 40 years. Realmuto had made the all star team for six consecutive years during his prime, from 2018 through 2023, with a return engagement in 2026 and again in 2028. He was still a productive member of a club that seen highs, lows, and everything in the middle over the last near-two-decades. Never a legitimate “power” hitter, Realmuto had nevertheless accrued 294 home runs over the course of his career, along with 98 stolen bases. He was also the 2021 National League Most Valuable Player runner-up, to long-time Miami Marlins nemesis Christian Yelich.

Manager Martin Prado had been there for most of Realmuto’s career. After leaving the Marlins via free agency following the 2019 campaign, Prado played a season each with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Kansas City Royals, and the Philadelphia Phillies before hanging it up after the 2022 season.

“Sometimes, you just know when it’s time,” Prado was quoted as saying after that season. After a year in broadcast, Prado joined the Jupiter Hammerheads coaching staff. He was promoted to head the Miami Marlins prior to the 2026 season.

Prado’s brave base running tactics, pitching staff management, and unconventional infield AND outfield shifts had made a positive difference in the outcome of Miami’s seasons. With four playoff berths (and a 2029 World Series title) in his six seasons at the helm, no Marlin had been as influential to him as Realmuto.

“He’s just an anchor back there,” Prado was quoted as saying during the 2028 all star break, “I can always count on J.T. to keep baserunners in check, hit .300, and manage my young guns.” Realmuto had logged over 125 games played in each of his first 15 seasons before age, wear-and-tear, and the nagging everyday injuries started to take their toll. The last two years had been tough for the old warhorse, and Realmuto was mulling retirement.

February 10th, 2032, Pitchers and Catchers Report

Martin Prado’s office, Prado’s sitting behind his desk, looking over possible lineup changes. J.T. Realmuto knocks on the glass-windowed door.

“Hey Skip?”

J.T. Realmuto, in a pair of jeans and a Miami Marlins hoodie. It’s 62°in South Florida this time of year, but Realmuto has lived in Miami for some time now, and is accustomed to being warmer.

“J.T! Good to see you again! How was your offseason?”

“You know, I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

Both chuckle quietly.

“What can I do for you, Jake?”

“Marty, I’m not sure that I have it in me. My knees are killing me, my back keeps me up at night, and that’s not even to mention my shoulder. I don’t think I’ll be able to grind out another season.”

Martin looks down and shuffles some papers on his desk, then glances back up at J.T.

“You know, Jake, my last couple of years were tough. Hell, I must’ve thought about retiring at least a dozen times before I just couldn’t play anymore.” Prado continues, looking somewhat sadly at Realmuto, “What I can tell you from my experience is this: I wish I had kept playing. I wish I was still playing now! Sometimes, I still get jealous of you guys who get out there and play every day… and I’m 48-years-old now! I swear to God that I can still get in that batting cage and take my cuts. I feel like I could still hit .300, field bullets at the corner, knock a few over the fence, but I know that’s just what’s left of my youthful pride. I think I’d quickly get brought back down-to-earth if I tried.”

Realmuto, looking apologetic, but somehow determined, purses his lips and squints his eyes as if trying to see something behind Prado, then says, “I guess I’m just telling you not to be surprised if I spend most of this season on the disabled list. It’s been a tough couple of years.”

“J.T., you need to play until you can’t. You’re still better than half of the catchers in the majors, and you’re still tops on our depth chart here. I’ll tell you when you’re done. And it’s not yet.”

Prado looks back at Realmuto, and ticks off his points, one-by-one, touching his fingers in turn.

“One,” Prado says, touching his index finger, “You have 2,740 hits. If you only start in half the games, and pinch hit in half of those, you’ll get to 3,000 no problem. Maybe even by the end of next year. Hell, I’ll start you at DH 40 times and at first base 40 times. Just handle Kolek every fifth day and we’re good.”

Prado sips from his coffee mug, then places it down and holds a second finger up, “Two, you’ve hit 294 home runs. I know you don’t have the power you used to, but you can still punch a few over the wall. I’m sure you can still give us 10 to 12. They didn’t move the fences in here at Mas Park for nothing.”

Prado holds his ring finger up, “Three, you have 98 stolen bases. I know you can’t run like you used to, but you’re still crafty as hell. Wouldn’t you like to tell your grandkids you stole 100?

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Prado looks at Realmuto pointedly for a moment here, seeing if it’s sinking in, then displays his pinkie, “Four, I know you’re still feeling it, and our window is still open. Doesn’t ‘Two-Time World Series Champion’ sound nice?”

Realmuto’s looking abashed here and more than a little proud, but Prado has one more point.

Prado opens his hand and smiles, “Five, because I need you to. I’m asking you to bring our young guys along, be my deputy in the clubhouse, and bat seventh, just for two more years. I promise you’ll thank me later.”

Realmuto, clearly seeing things in a slightly different light, looks focused when he meets Prado’s eyes, “OK Skip. You know you’ll always get my best. I’ll give you one more year, then we’ll go from there. You need anything else from me?”

Prado, perhaps wistful at the changed nature of his association with these ballplayers since taking the reins, shakes his head, “I’m good, see you out there.”

Realmuto closes the door, and walks into the locker room to get suited up for another season. Meanwhile, back in his office, Prado pulls a notebook from the inside liner of his windbreaker, flips open to a seemingly random page, drags his finger down the small lined sheet, taps his finger twice, and fumbles in his top desk drawer for a pencil. He then marks the small page with what seems to be a checkmark.

Prado, quietly to himself, “Now, if only Anderson agrees this easily.”

Next. Major Leaguer Isaac Galloway, the Newest Miami Marlin. dark

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