Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto doesn’t want to return to Miami

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins is congratulated by teamamtes after he hit a two run home run scoring teammate Marcell Ozuna#13 in the second inning against the New York Mets on August 18, 2017 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins is congratulated by teamamtes after he hit a two run home run scoring teammate Marcell Ozuna#13 in the second inning against the New York Mets on August 18, 2017 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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 Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has announced he will not be with the team next season through his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA.

The future of Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto in South Florida is in serious jeopardy, according to his agent Jeff Berry of CAA. Signing the 27-year-old to a multi-year deal is high on the franchise’s priority list, but it appears this is not in the cards from the player’s perspective.

"Per Daniel Kramer of ESPN.com, “Speaking on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, Berry made it clear that Realmuto, who is under club control through 2020, won’t sign a long-term extension with Miami.”"

Realmuto is eligible for arbitration, as he made $2.9 million last season, his first as an All-Star. Several teams showed interest in Realmuto prior to the season and at the MLB Trade Deadline. If the team does not sign him to a deal, they more than likely would try to work out a trade where both sides benefit from a divorce from the situation.

The Marlins have made no secret about wanting Realmuto on the team in 2019 and for the foreseeable future. While he led the team with 21 home runs and 74 RBI, he was the last man standing of a core of players the team had kept to build around during the Jeffrey Loria ownership days. Once the team was sold to Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman, the blueprint was redesigned and one by one, players were traded.

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Realmuto was not happy with the decision by management and voice his feelings about the state of the Marlins prior to the start of Spring Training. The organization already has a hole at first base to fill. Having to replace one of the best catchers in the game today may be a bigger obstacle.

Michael Hill, the Marlins president of baseball operations told MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro [through the story on ESPN.com] in early October it was the team’s intention of meeting with Realmuto and his agent and discuss his future with the team and to build around him as the centerpiece and face of the franchise.

"“It’s no secret, I think J.T. knows how we feel about him. … As I’ve said consistently, we want him to be a part of what we’re doing in the long term,” Hill said."

Now, there is a conundrum of sorts for the Marlins, a team riding a wave of excitement with the signing of Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa, Jr. this past week. There is also talk, although it is speculation, that the team could be in the mix to land power-hitting infielder Manny Machado.

If that were to happen, it would mean Jeter and the Marlins are moving away from the frugal spending it wanted to stick to in reducing payroll and turning a profit for the struggling franchise.

Having both Machado and Realmuto on the payroll would cost the team at least $40 million for the 2019 season and with Wei-Yin Chen, Starlin Castro and Martin Prado having over-priced contracts, it seems unlikely everyone would fit in Miami’s plans for the future.

As of now, Realmuto is under team control for two more seasons. He is eligible for arbitration in both 2019 and 2020. He would become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. Based on speculation and an estimated salary for the upcoming season, Realmuto should make roughly around $6.1 million through arbitration.

The $2.9 million he made this past season was settled in his first season of arbitration where he lost his case for more money.

The Washington Nationals were the team most interested in his services last season and should once again be part of the contingent looking to add his name to a roster. The Atlanta Braves could be in the market for a catcher, as could the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and potentially the New York Yankees who would want insurance for Gary Sanchez.

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