With the signing of catcher Kurt Suzuki, the Washington National may have taken themselves out of the market for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Advantage Miami Marlins. With Monday’s announcement that the Washington Nationals have inked free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year deal, the number of teams that are interested in catcher J.T. Realmuto may have shrunk by one.
Might is the operative word here as the Nationals were believed to be one of the more aggressive teams last season in trying to acquire the first-time All-Star the major of the year. Now, with the former Atlant Braves catcher remains in the division and gives the Nationals a backstop who improves their lineup.
The move also should mean other teams, which include the Braves, will ramp up their offers for Realmuto, who has said he does not wish to remain in Miami on a long-term deal with the franchise. Suddenly, it may have gotten a bit hotter in South Florida, but the move also assures the Marlins of being able to increase their asking price for the biggest chess piece on the roster.
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"“The Nationals on Monday reached an agreement on a two-year contract with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand,” Joe Frisaro wrote. “MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports the deal is worth $10 million.”"
The Marlins will have to pony up a deal of potentially $20 million per season to keep Realmuto in the fold on a long-term deal, which is something the front office may not want to consider given there has been a push to keep the team’s payroll at around $100 million for the coming season.
The Braves, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, appear to the frontrunners to land Realmuto now that Washington has taken itself out of the running. The Marlins asking price for a trade involving the Nationals was too high for their National League rivals, as Juan Soto, Victor Robles or both players were part of a deal Miami sought.
"“Entering his second season of arbitration, Realmuto is drawing various levels of attention from at least 10 teams. But since he isn’t a free agent until 2021, the Marlins don’t have any urgency to make a move this offseason,” Frisaro added.“After Realmuto made $2.9 million in ’18, he is expected to get a raise via arbitration for the upcoming season but remain affordable, and there are no internal options ready to take over the starting role behind the plate.”"
Atlanta, although a rival in the same division, has a minor league system that could accommodate the Marlins in terms of prospects offered. The same goes for the Dodgers, who could use a catcher now that there is a glaring hole at the position on the left coast with Yasmani Grandal now a free agent.
The Marlins may be seeking Cody Bellinger, the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner and a player who can become the team’s first baseman. If he is not dealt by Los Angeles in a trade, there are other options and puzzle pieces which may include outfielder Alex Verdugo, the No. 32-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list.
Then there is the Astros, who were in the American League Championship Series last season and could add Realmuto’s bat to their potent order.
"“Since last offseason, the Astros have balked at parting with outfield prospect Kyle Tucker or right-hander Forrest Whitley,” Frisaro wrote. “Tucker is the No. 5 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, and Whitley is eighth.”"
The Braves can offer plenty of pitching prospects to an already bursting farm system in Miami. The Marlins need a power hitter, a catcher to replace Realmuto if he is dealt and a first baseman.