Despite the growing interest in what happens to catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Miami Marlins do have other areas of concern to deal with this offseason.
What happens to catcher J.T. Realmuto remains the biggest news within the Miami Marlins organization and a key part of Major League Baseball’s offseason. Regardless of the fact moving Realmuto, the 27-year-old All-Star, opens another hole in the team’s lineup and on the diamond, there are still other areas of need the front office has been focusing on since the end of the 2018 season.
Leave it to the Marlins to once again be part of the biggest news items in the game, while still ridding the franchise of another big name. This time, in defense of Derek Jeter and Michael Hill, this is a situation the team did not create.
They still hold true to their stance that keeping Realmuto as the centerpiece of their rebuilding project would be best for the team.
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The Marlins and Hill left Las Vegas from the Baseball Winter Meetings with a better understanding of which teams are contenders and pretenders in the Realmuto sweepstakes.
Now, reality sets in and a deal must get done sooner rather than later. All the while, the team must figure out other areas of concern before February and Spring Training begins in Jupiter, Florida.
Looking at the Magic 8 Ball, these are just a few of the items Jeter and his staff are working on before the end of the year.
- Who plays first base?
- Is there another veteran catcher who can replace Realmuto’s value?
- Where are the veteran relievers to help a struggling bullpen?
- Who will be the Opening Day closer?
- Is there a plan for the shortstop position?
- What about depth on the bench?
- Will the team bring in another veteran starter?
Adding to the shortstop position may be on the list of “Things to Do” for Hill. The two incumbents, J.T. Riddle and Miguel Rojas, figure to battle it out to start the season. There could be changes for the future.
"“Resolving the Realmuto situation is the top organizational priority,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “There’s a chance that a shortstop could be included as part of a Realmuto package, but Miami is seeking its best overall deal.”"
The team’s shortstop of the future, Jose Devers, is still at least a year away from the Majors.
The Marlins went to Las Vegas knowing they wanted to add veterans to the bullpen and potentially find someone to compete for the closer’s role. No arms have been added. It will happen, but it might be after the new year before fans see the team sign one or two arms.
Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley will go to Training Camp as the odds on favorite to lock down the closer’s role. Steckenrider might get the nod because Conley can be used in long relief and as a set-up man.
I believe the first base job is one that has Peter O’Brien’s name on it. The team signed Pedro Alvarez last month to a minor league deal and have invited him to camp. Garrett Cooper will get a long look as well while coming back from injuries last season.
The Marlins need power from the position. O’Brien gave the organization a nice sample size to work with. The front office would like to see more from him and possibly bring in a veteran to compete for the position like free agent Matt Adams.
Who replaces Realmuto is a mystery in itself. Chad Wallach is sitll on the roster and knows the pitching staff. He is a servicable backstop, but does not possess Realmuto’s athleticism.
Bryan Holaday was brought back after being released. He too has experience with the team.
The catcher position is critical to the development of young arms and the shaky bullpen. The Marlins could ask for a catcher in return as part of the deal for Realmuto.
Both pitchers figure to be on the roster. Urena is a good bet to start Opening Day once again.
Straily is veteran workhorse who can eat innings and be a dependable second starter. The team has many young arms at their disposal to choose from to round out the rotation. Another vteran arm is possible, but not likely. I wanted to see the team make a run at Matt Harvey. That did not happen.