The Miami Marlins have taken a wait and see approach with catcher J.T. Realmuto and his decision to leave the organization this offseason.
What will J.T. Realmuto do? It might be the question that does not have an answer until February of 2019. The fact the All-Star catcher wants out of Miami, as he stated through his agent early last week, does not phase the Marlins organization right now.
The franchise wants to keep Realmuto and build around him. President of baseball operations Michael Hil reiterated the team’s feelings at the General Manager’s Meetings in California when he spoke to the media.
"“There’s really no change there,” Hill said Tuesday night on the Marlins Hot Stove radio show hosted by Kyle Sielaff. “It’s definitely up to J.T. if he chooses to accept an extension. But we know that he’s under control for the next two years, and we’d be extremely happy to have him as part of what we’re building.”"
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Realmuto figures to be as big a story as any free agent move this offseason. While Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will seek new stadiums to call home and command top dollar, there is a market value for the 27-year-old that has yet to be defined.
There is no shortage of teams willing to step forward and make their best offer.
The flip side to all of this is Realmuto and his agent could be posturing to see what offer is made before making a decision. In that case, the Marlins are in no hurry to make a move. The chess match is truly in the organization’s favor.
There are two years of arbitration left for Realmuto before he becomes a free agent in 2021. Miami controls his contract, which means they can keep their top star without moving a finger to dial a suitor’s number. Also, the team still wants to negotiate with him and his agent.
Above everything else, the changes in Miami with the roster and stadium would make Realmuto the face of the franchise and potentially a lifelong Marlins star.
Currently, he is preparing to travel to Japan as a member of the MLB team that plays in the All-Star series. He is being managed by Marlins skipper Don Mattingly while overseas.
The organization is really playing a waiting game.
"“He had a tremendous season,” Hill said. “We’re here in California trying to improve this club and take that next step forward. J.T. Realmuto is a big part of that.”"