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Real Deal: What Would It Take To Get J.T. Realmuto?

As the trade deadline approaches, there's a rightful focus on 'sell' moves the Minnesota Twins should be pursuing.

But I would submit there's another, very different sort of swap that Minnesota should be plotting toward.

By finding a way to acquire star catcher J.T. Realmuto from Miami, the Twins would be addressing their greatest organizational weakness with authority, while also reinforcing the expectation of a short-term return to contention.

Trading for Realmuto wouldn't be so much a buy move for the second half as a buy move for 2019, 2020, and beyond.

The reason to do it now is that if they don't, the Twins might miss their chance.
Image courtesy of Amber Searles, USA Today
This season, the Twins have gotten a lowly .581 OPS from the catcher position, ranking as one of the worst in the majors. But worse even are the Washington Nationals, who have openly tried to upgrade behind the plate. They made a big push for Realmuto during the offseason as Miami held its firesale, but ultimately came up short.

Washington's continuing interest in the 27-year-old, who has improved every year in the majors and currently sports a .317/.368/.551 slash line for the Marlins, is well known. But during a late-June radio interview, Nats GM Mike Rizzo was candid in his stance.

“They’ve got a great player in Realmuto,” said Rizzo. “They’re not going to sell him cheap. We know what the return has to be on Realmuto, and we’re not willing to meet that price."

According to offseason reports and rumors, the Marlins refused to make a deal that didn't include at least one of Victor Robles or Juan Soto. To put that in some context, Robles and Soto ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on Baseball America's list of top Nationals prospects, compiled last November, and the two outfielders placed No. 7 and No. 56 on BA's 2018 preseason list. Soto is now already up in the majors and raking at age 19.

So, clearly the Marlins aren't going to settle for anything less than at least one premier, top-end prospect at the front of a Realmuto package. This means that for Minnesota, the conversation would need to start with Royce Lewis, currently 10th in BA's live rankings, or Alex Kirilloff, whose monster season in A-ball has rocketed him up to No. 35.

From my view, Lewis is off the table. You just don't trade a player like him away. But pretty much anyone else in the organization should be fair game, including Kirilloff. Could the Twins build a package around the young slugger that gets it done? Should they?

Hypothesizing a Prospect Package for Realmuto

One can envision Kirilloff striking Miami's fancy as the headliner in an offer for Realmuto – a worthy fallback after they failed to land Robles or Soto. The Marlins system is short on impact bats and Kirilloff has quickly established himself as one of the best in the minors. His sweet left-handed swing draws comparisons to Christian Yelich, who himself enjoyed five stellar seasons with the Fish before being shipped out during the aforementioned offseason firesale.

Mired in last place, the Marlins don't really have any hopes of returning to contention within the next couple of seasons, and Realmuto is due for free agency after 2020. Around that same time, Kirilloff figures to be breaking into the big leagues, so the logic behind such a swap from their perspective is easy enough to see.

From Minnesota's end, losing Kirilloff would obviously hurt. He's a key piece in their system, especially as offensive production has taken a lackluster turn for the big-league club. But Realmuto's impact in that regard would be enormous, with his polished catching skills and middle-of-the-order bat turning a crucial position from major liability to resounding strength.

And, for whatever it's worth, the Twins might have just found themselves another Kirilloff. First-round draft pick Trevor Larnach, who signed last week after starring for Oregon State in the College World Series, has a very similar profile: lefty-swinging, power-hitting corner outfielder, and he'll slot in at just about the same stage of development. It is of course unlikely he'll reach the same level of esteem as Kirilloff, but the Twins at least wouldn't be opening a huge void.

So, what else needs to be added alongside Kirilloff to make this happen? I suspect Miami would command another prospect in Minnesota's top tier – perhaps a Nick Gordon or Stephen Gonsalves. Personally I would be reluctantly willing to part with either. But even that might not get it done.

Emerging flamethrower Brusdar Graterol, or the more advanced and MLB-ready Fernando Romero, are names that really could get their attention, and while giving either up in addition to Kirilloff would be excruciatingly painful, I think I do it if it gets me two years of Realmuto with a chance to nail down a longer deal. And I might add another prospect from the Twins' Top 10 or 15, too.

"The only way to be sustainable over time is to build up the minor league system. That is our focus," said Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during a town hall meeting with fans in December. "I don't expect you to be happy."

Dealing Realmuto for a package of prospects headlined by Kirilloff and, say, Graterol might not make Miami fans happy, but it would certainly align within the teardown strategy Jeter was defending. The franchise would add at least two heralded talents with enormous upside while shaving around $6 million off the 2019 payroll.

I'll admit, the timing would be a little weird.

Why Now?

It's not often you see an avowed seller go and flip multiple top prospects for a 27-year-old All-Star at the trade deadline. In fact, I'm not sure it has ever happened. But now is a time for creative, outside-the-box thinking.

The Twins – maintaining a focus on short-term contention – aren't your typical deadline seller.

Realmuto – tied for second in the National League in WAR and under affordable team control for multiple years – isn't your typical deadline target.

As mentioned earlier, one aspect of the rationale here is beating others to the punch. Realmuto is a highly coveted asset and the Marlins are sure to have numerous callers this month. One can argue that it's more logical for Minnesota to wait until the offseason before engaging in these discussions, escaping the leverage dynamics inherent to the deadline, but that isn't necessarily a luxury they can afford.

There are also some concrete benefits to pulling the trigger now. Realmuto would have the final two months to acclimate and gain familiarity with the Twins pitching staff, which figures to largely carry over in 2019. There's real value in that for a catcher.

And also, Realmuto is just a hell of a player. You could hardly make a more impactful addition at the trade deadline. To whatever extent the Twins remain attached to their nearly invisible postseason hopes, he'd be a huge boost.

At the very least, it sends a good message to players and fans: Things haven't gone to plan, but we're still serious about winning, and now.

This kind of move would allow them to pursue that goal vigorously while lessening their reliance on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano to lead the charge. It'd be a major shakeup and strategic pivot for the front office, but I believe such measures are warranted given this current state of affairs.

What do you think? What would it take to pry Realmuto from the Marlins, and would you be willing to do it?

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252 Comments

I remember a couple years ago, at the start of the 2016 season, people talked about a 29 year old Jonathan Lucroy like this. That unraveled quite quickly, as we look at mid season 2018. Realmuto will be 28 at the start of 2019 season. Mauer was going to be the catcher for a lot longer than he was, when at 28 in the middle of 2011, the still mysterious bilateral leg weakness was the beginning of the end, but the rising Wilson Ramos was foolishly traded the year earlier because Mauer would surely be catching for years (and we all know the rest of that saga).

 

Sure, it is a crap shoot, and Realmuto is, right now, the catcher everyone would like to have. I am a fan of trading prospects for MLB stars and players that have proven themselves. It will be real interesting to see what happens, but my bet is the Twins will not be the ones to get Realmuto. I think the best shot is to sign Ramos as a free agent in the off season, and the Twins are going to have plenty of money freed up, and neither Buxton nor Sano are showing the need a huge payoff in the next year or two. They both now have a ton to prove with consistency for that to happen, even if they both shine for the last half of this season. I really don't see the FO going for Realmuto with Buxton, Sano, and Kepler not progressing. If they had this year, yes. But as it is....it would be an incredible gamble. Can one player make this team a contender? Not if the rest don't pony up as well.

    • Jerr, Twins33, SwainZag and 5 others like this

I totally get sending out Kirilloff with a guy like Gordon or Gonsalves. But to suggest that Romero would be an add-on to Kirilloff? Romero is significantly more valuable than Kirilloff, and he isn't even in the same universe as a guy like Gonsalves. That's a hard no from me.

 

You can't send off the only good pitchers you develop, especially for two years of a guy who's in the middle of a career year that we can't even use to contend. 

    • Kevin, SF Twins Fan and mngopherguy like this

If you are not sold on Garver, why not pay Ramos like 4/$60 to cover the gap.Twins have very little in payroll the next couple of years, so an overpay or a good contract will not be out of the ballpark to cover this gap.  

    • h2oface, Sconnie, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
Photo
Carole Keller
Jul 10 2018 05:45 AM

Seems like trading for this guy might be a good idea, but I haven't given it much thought....


Lol
    • tvagle likes this
Photo
Carole Keller
Jul 10 2018 05:57 AM

Giving up pitching like Romero or even Graterol kind of seems counter productive. I get that nothing is promised with Graterol, but this organization needs pitching help as much as they need a catcher so giving up either on top of Kiriloff might be a bit much for me. 
 
It really comes down to whether the Twins can, or in reality are willing, to extend or resign Realmuto. We're not going to like what they have to give up to get him. I can probably live with the price if they lock him up beyond 2020.


I actually think the Twins’ need for a great catcher is greater than the pitching needs right now. I would do Kirilloff + Graterol for Realmuto with blinking a few times, but I’d do it.

This is the trouble with trade discussions. We all want but when it comes time to give we all get too squeamish. You have to give to get, especially for a big piece that will be a difference maker.
    • USAFChief, gagu and tvagle like this

I hate it when a thread likes this comes out, because everyone, including me, would really love to get Realmuto! Don’t think the Twins will do it- it just isn’t in the team’s DNA.
But IF they DID, it would be a sea change for this organization.
Here’s what I would do. I’d first meet with Realmuto to see if he’d sign a 3 year extension for $60 million. Think I’m crazy? The Twins paid Mauer $24million/year for 8(?) years.
If he agreed, we’d have him locked up for 5 years. I don’t know anything about him personally, but he could be the face of the franchise!
I’d include Lewis if I had to.
Something like:
Lewis
Gonsalves
+another Top 20 prospect

I said in an earlier post that I’d do Sano for Realmuto even up. Doubt the Marlins would do that, though.
But I agree with Nick- someone is going to make this deal- might as well be us!


If the Twins got caught negotiating a contract extension with another team's player, you'd see the biggest sanctions we've ever seen in pro sports, and Falvey and Levine would never work in a baseball FO again.

 

I’d rather not give up Romero, wouldn’t Gordon, Gonsalves, and Thorpe be enough already?

 

Not even close. 

    • snap4birds likes this
On an earlier thread, poster dbminn estimated Realmuto's net value over the next 2.5 seasons (performance minus salary) around $60 mil.

Fangraphs came up with some prospect value estimates here:

https://www.fangraph...-100-prospects/

Virtually impossible to get a deal done without including an elite position player prospect (55+ FV), of which the Twins only have Lewis.

You can try to pile up prospects from the next tier (45-50 FV), but MLB trades rarely work that way. Plus that level of prospect isn't that scarce of a commodity (there were 97 50 FV prospects in Fangraphs preseason lists), so virtually every team in baseball could build a package around 2-3 of them for the best catcher in the game if that was all it took. And in any case, the Marlins already have more 50 FV prospects (7) than any team in baseball, so they would stand to gain the least from adding more at that level.

Maybe the Marlins don't get a better offer this month, but that doesn't mean they have to accept it. If the Lucroy trade is a guide, then equivalent offers will still be available to them this winter and next summer, at least.
    • markos and Vanimal46 like this

If the Twins got caught negotiating a contract extension with another team's player, you'd see the biggest sanctions we've ever seen in pro sports, and Falvey and Levine would never work in a baseball FO again.


I think the implication is that we'd agree on the framework of a deal with Miami and get permission to talk extension. Like the Mets and Johan Santana.
    • ashburyjohn, USAFChief, Twins33 and 5 others like this

You got to trade from excess not shortage.At this point the Twins have nobody with top of the rotation staff, other than maybe Graterol.Romero will likely be better than Berrios.You can just not give them away.

 

Frankly, I'd start the conversation with the consensus former number 1 prospect in baseball.The Twins can use Realmuto more than Buxton (who is under 3+ years of team control) right now.If that's not enough, I'd add one of the LF hitting OFs in the minors (Wade, Kirilloff) and maybe even some with mid-end rotation ceiling like Gonsalves or Littell, and I'd try to pry a bullpen piece from them as well like Barraclough who is about to get very expensive.

    • gagu, IaFan1, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

I certainly do not trade Fernando Romero for two years of J.T. Realmuto. We might need catching, I don't disagree with that at all. But as I recall we also need a top starter and Romero has the stuff to pair with Berrios to sit atop the pitching staff for a long time. 

 

Romero and Kirilloff for Realmuto is too expensive in any event. Wait it out. 

 

    • 70charger, SF Twins Fan, IaFan1 and 1 other like this

 

The Twins have a core of young pitchers to go with Berrios in Romero, Graterol and Gonsalves. Why break that up for 2 years of a good catcher. I'm all in with Mitch Garver. And with Sano and Buxton failing badly I am not going to trade potential stars in Alex Kirilloff or Royce Lewis. Even as this year has been a fail it's easy to see a quick turn around in a year of two if Sano and Buxton get right and you have Lewis, Kirilloff, Gordon and Rooker knocking on the door. 

This.

 

1) Castro and Garver can get the job done, other teams have won World Series without great catchers.

2) Good pitching is what wins, you need to keep any potential aces like Romero.

3) Will one very good catcher put the Twins over the hump?? I don't think so, plus you're putting all your eggs in one basket, if he gets hurt, then what?

    • alarp33, olivia11, IaFan1 and 1 other like this

The Timberwolves and the Jimmy Butler come to mind here. They traded 3 young talented players for JB, he came in an lit a fire under the T-wolves, but then he got hurt and they struggled to make the playoffs. Now they're facing the fact that he is only signed for one more year, if he doesn't resign with them, the T-wolves are &*()*(*&, facing mediocrity for many years because they gave up their young player pipeline.

 

Is that the model we want the Twins to follow?

 

Trade for a player like Realmuto when you're closer to contention, Washington is there, the Twins aren't.

 

 

    • Broker likes this

IDK... Garver has a wRC+ of 133 since 6/1.


How's his glove?

If the proposed trade is Romero + Kirilloff + Graterol for Realmuto, I'm definitely not making that trade.

 

It's really a decision between the following options: 

 

Option 1: 

-5 years of control of Romero

-top end, trending up prospects in Kirilloff and Graterol in the system and eventually 6 years of control (to join winning window later or be used as future trade pieces when Twins are contending for championship)

-Jason Castro as starting catcher in 2019

-Mitch Garver as backup in 2019 (or if really don't believe in his defense, sign a defensive-first back up)

 

Option 2: 

-Realmuto for 2019 and 2020 (possibility for signing long-term but that is far from a guarantee and would likely be very expensive) 

-Jason Castro as backup catcher in 2019

 

 

I think you can make a solid argument that option 1 benefits the Twins more than option 2 does.

 

I would. Especially considering that cost-controlled young starting pitching (Romero, maybe Graterol too) is arguably the most valuable resource in baseball right now.

    • Oxtung and mazeville like this

If the proposed trade is Romero + Kirilloff + Graterol for Realmuto, I'm definitely not making that trade.

It's really a decision between the following options:

Option 1:
-5 years of control of Romero
-top end, trending up prospects in Kirilloff and Graterol in the system and eventually 6 years of control (to join winning window later or be used as future trade pieces when Twins are contending for championship)
-Jason Castro as starting catcher in 2019
-Mitch Garver as backup in 2019 (or if really don't believe in his defense, sign a defensive-first back up)

Option 2:
-Realmuto for 2019 and 2020 (possibility for signing long-term but that is far from a guarantee and would likely be very expensive)
-Jason Castro as backup catcher in 2019


I think you can make a solid argument that option 1 benefits the Twins more than option 2 does.

I would. Especially considering that cost-controlled young starting pitching (Romero, maybe Graterol too) is arguably the most valuable resource in baseball right now.


Option 1 requires a lot of hope that things work out. And you want to rely on Castro starting again after a torn ACL?

 

Option 1 requires a lot of hope that things work out. And you want to rely on Castro starting again after a torn ACL?

 

He didn't tear his ACL, are we predicting that is going to happen? 

 

I've written on here multiple times, Castro did not have a major injury, I don't get why people continue this narrative that he is completely cooked.Yes he is aging, yes he's missing most of this year. But his health is not a factor in 2019

Prospects. 

 

We didn't need to add bullpen help for the last umpteen years, either, because we had all that can't-miss reliever talent in the minor leagues just waiting to be harvested.

 

An overabundance, actually. There wouldn't even be room on the 25 man roster for all that talent.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel and caninatl04 like this

 

He didn't tear his ACL, are we predicting that is going to happen? 

 

I've written on here multiple times, Castro did not have a major injury, I don't get why people continue this narrative that he is completely cooked.Yes he is aging, yes he's missing most of this year. But his health is not a factor in 2019

A catcher with knee surgury serious enough to miss almost an entire season, and health isn't a factor in 2019??

    • Jerr likes this

He didn't tear his ACL, are we predicting that is going to happen?

I've written on here multiple times, Castro did not have a major injury, I don't get why people continue this narrative that he is completely cooked. Yes he is aging, yes he's missing most of this year. But his health is not a factor in 2019


Meniscus. I don't understand your logic. The rehab is taking 5-6 months and he's missing the rest of the season. That's not a major injury?
    • Broker likes this

 

A catcher with knee surgury serious enough to miss almost an entire season, and health isn't a factor in 2019??

 

He had arthroscopic surgery in May. He will be fully recovered by Sept or Oct. No, his health will not be a factor (in regards to this surgery).People here clearly con't understand the type of injury / surgery he had, and that's fine. But let's not make stuff up like his return is a question next year

 

Meniscus. I don't understand your logic. The rehab is taking 5-6 months and he's missing the rest of the season. That's not a major injury?

 

It will be around 4 months of pretty easy rehab, it's a very minor surgery.He'll be totally cleared by doctors a solid 5-6 months before Spring Training. 

 

No, it's not a major surgery.  

 

- someone who had the same surgery last October (and has had 6 other knee surgeries)

 

He had arthroscopic surgery in May. He will be fully recovered by Sept or Oct. No, his health will not be a factor (in regards to this surgery).People here clearly con't understand the type of injury / surgery he had, and that's fine. But let's not make stuff up like his return is a question next year

Oh he'll return.

 

But let's not pretend we can guarantee there will be no effect on a guy who makes his living squatting on that knee for 4 hours a day.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

 

Oh he'll return.

 

But let's not pretend we can guarantee there will be no effect on a guy who makes his living squatting on that knee for 4 hours a day.

 

He could get hit by a car tomorrow crossing the street. Of course there's no guarantee to health. But why are people pretending he IS going to have an effect? Catchers have arthroscopic surgery all the time. They come back perfectly fine all the time. 

 

People are confusing him being out for this season as having had a major surgery and that's simply not the case

I'm not a fan of this trade. To start with, the catcher offensive stats would be a lot better if Bobby Wilson hadn't been so terrible. He is clearly not part of the plans after this season. Also, the Twins have too many question marks for this trade to make sense.

 

Who is playing 1B next year? Who is playing 2B?

 

What if Buxton and Kepler don't develop offensively? What about Sano?

 

I think it is safe to assume Romero is in the plans to be in the rotation next year. Who takes his spot? How does the rotation get better?

 

I also don't like the idea of giving up those kinds of prospects for a catcher. People say Romero is one pitch away from needing TJ again. Well, Realmuto is one foul tip off the mask away from never being the same offensively again (see: Joe Mauer). 

    • alarp33, Twins33, Oxtung and 4 others like this

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