The latest rumors last week had the Washington Nationals as the “team most heavily engaged in trade discussions” with the Miami Marlins for their 26-year-old catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to Sirius/XM host Craig Mish.
FanRag’s Jon Heyman too reported on Twitter that the Nationals were at least, “... among teams trying to reel in [Realmuto].”
Realmuto reportedly requested a trade after watching the Fish deal big pieces of their roster away as part of a rebuild under new ownership this winter.
This afternoon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro is reporting that, “[t]he Nationals are one of the clubs most interested, and they may also be the favorites to land the rising star,” while noting that Washington is not the only team in the mix for the four-year veteran who is relatively affordable and under team control through 2020.
According to Frisaro, at least a dozen teams have inquired about the Marlins’ talented backstop’s availability.
One sticking point, which Frisaro touches on again today, has been the Marlins’ interest in the Nationals’ top prospects should any deal go down.
GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office are reportedly unwilling to trade either of their top outfield prospects, Victor Robles or Juan Soto.
“According to multiple sources and reports,” Frisaro wrote today, “... the Marlins covet either of Washington’s top two ranked prospects -- outfielders Victor Robles and Juan Soto.”
The Nationals, however, are, according to Frisaro’s sources, still unwilling to include either player in any potential deal.
“Sources say neither prospect is available,” Frisaro added, “... and the Nationals instead are open to a package that would center around shortstop Carter Kieboom and right-hander Erick Fedde.”
Kieboom, 20, is the Nationals’ 2016 1st Round pick, who was ranked 90th overall on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top prospects in the organization when it was released this past weekend after putting up a .297/.396/.493 line with 16 doubles and nine home runs in an injury-impacted campaign in the Nats’ system in 2017.
Fedde, the top pitching prospect in the organization, and one of two pitchers who is thought to be an option for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ 2018 rotation, debuted in the majors this past season.
The 24-year-old right-hander, who was a first round pick by the Nationals in 2014, in spite of the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery before the Draft, put up a 3.04 ERA, a 3.24 FIP, 2.88 BB/9, and 8.63 K/9 in 56 1⁄3 IP at Double-A Harrisburg and a 4.76 ERA, a 3.54 FIP, 1.32 BB/9, and 6.62 K/9 in 34 innings at Triple-A, with 15 1⁄3 IP for the Nationals (9.39 ERA, 7.20 FIP, 4.70 BB/9, 8.80 K/9), struggling in his first exposure against big league hitters.
Realmuto finished the 2017 campaign with a .278/.332/.451 line, 31 doubles, and 17 home runs in 141 games and 579 plate appearances, over which he was worth 3.6 fWAR.
Will the Nationals, who dealt three pitching prospects to the Chicago White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade last winter be willing to trade their top pitching and infield prospect as part of a package to bring in Realmuto? Do they need to add catching or are you as convinced as the Nats seem to be that Matt Wieters (who is back on a 1-year/$10.5M contract) is a candidate for a bounce-back season after struggling offensively in 2017, and top backstop prospect Pedro Severino is ready to share duties with Wieters?