MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro wrote last week that the Washington Nationals were one of at least a dozen teams that have had discussions with the Miami Marlins about 26-year-old catcher J.T. Realmuto this winter. According to Frisaro’s reporting, the Nats were considered “... one of the clubs most interested,” and, he added, “... they may also be the favorites to land the rising star.”
Realmuto finished the 2017 season, his fourth in the majors, 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.
He’s under team control through 2020 with his 2018 salary to be decided in arbitration after he filed at $3.5 million and the Marlins offered $2.9 million.
Citing “multiple sources and reports”, Frisaro noted that the Fish continue to, “... covet either of Washington’s top two ranked prospects -- outfielders Victor Robles and Juan Soto,” though the Nationals, according to his sources, “say neither prospect is available, and the Nationals instead are open to a package that would center around shortstop Carter Kieboom and right-hander Erick Fedde.”
FanRag’s Jon Heyman added a number of names to the list of prospects the Nationals could potential part with in order to get a deal done in another story on the rumored interest in Realmuto.
Heyman too writes that Washington, “... is believed unwilling to part with either of its top two outfield prospects, Victor Robles or Juan Soto,” and they have Matt Wieters under contract for $10.5M in 2018 after he struggled offensively in 2017, so they may not be in any rush to meet Miami’s demands.
With Wieters behind the plate last season, Heyman notes, the Nationals, “... had an unprecedented three starters among the top-six finishers in Cy Young voting.”
If they did want to bolster their catching corps, which as of now has Wieters starting with Pedro Severino likely to share time with the veteran backstop, Heyman reports that the Nationals, even if they don’t want to deal either Robles or Soto, their top prospects on just about every prospect list, “are believed willing to consider,” dealing the likes of, “Michael Taylor, shortstop Carter Kieboom, pitchers Erick Fedde and Seth Romero, and catchers Pedro Severino and Raudy Read.”
Though Realmuto has reportedly requested a trade as the Marlins have entered yet another rebuilding phase under new ownership, Heyman writes that the Fish aren’t necessarily desperate to make a move either.
On the Nationals’ end, GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on Wednesday he’s comfortable having Wieters and Severino sharing the catching duties in 2018.
“We think that [Wieters is] going to have a bounce-back season this year,” Rizzo said.
“[He’s] a guy that the pitchers love throwing to. Commands the pitching staff, really handles the game. Had a down offensive season for himself last year. I think he’s a rebound candidate.”
Will the Nationals end up upgrading their catching corps? Would Wieters accept a part-time role if the Nats were to acquire a catcher like Realmuto? How would that work? Is it more likely that the Nationals would have to do something with Wieters if they were to make a deal with the Fish?