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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

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Andrew Thares
Jul 10 2018 07:38 AM

If the Twins were in a window that they knew was only going to be open for the next couple of years I would be all for this move, but personally I don't think that is the case for the Twins. With the way the organization is shaping up, I think the best chance for the Twins to be serious contenders is during the 2020-2022 window when all of these young prospects start coming up to support the young core that is at the majors now.

    • alarp33 and SF Twins Fan like this
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jorgenswest
Jul 10 2018 07:43 AM

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.


I agree. I don’t want to part with Lewis. However wouldn’t every teams option 1 look better? The Twins would never try to acquire that top tier player in trade.

 

If the Twins were in a window that they knew was only going to be open for the next couple of years I would be all for this move, but personally I don't think that is the case for the Twins. With the way the organization is shaping up, I think the best chance for the Twins to be serious contenders is during the 2020-2022 window when all of these young prospects start coming up to support the young core that is at the majors now.

Not to pick on you or make this personal, but I feel like I could have read this exact post five years ago, speaking about 2016-2018 as "the window." When all that young talent reaches the majors and is dominating.

 

And four years ago about 2017-2019 as "the window."

 

etc etc etc

 

I think the better option is to build your own window, rather than waiting for a window to build itself. Not to mention there's no guarantee you'll have trade opportunites available in 2020, or the assets to acquire such trade opportunities if they do exist.

 

 

    • Carole Keller, Rigby, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

 

 

 

I think the better option is to build your own window, rather than waiting for a window to build itself. Not to mention there's no guarantee you'll have trade opportunites available in 2020, or the assets to acquire such trade opportunities if they do exist.

 

On the surface I don't think there's anything wrong with this statement. But in reality, trading your top assets for a Catcher does not "build a window".It makes a 72 win team a 76 win team. Way more moves need to be done to "build a window"

    • Twins33, Oxtung, SwainZag and 3 others like this

Not to pick on you or make this personal, but I feel like I could have read this exact past five years ago, speaking about 2016-2018 as "the window." When all that young talent reaches the majors and is dominating.

And four years ago about 2017-2019 as "the window."

etc etc etc

I think the better option is to build your own window, rather than waiting for a window to build itself. Not to mention there's no guarantee you'll have trade opportunites available in 2020, or the assets to acquire such trade opportunities if they do exist.


That's because you did read those posts in past years.

I'm going to fill you in on a dirty little secret. If you keep pushing out the timeline 3 years from now, no one will notice!

It's also the beauty of prospect reports. Prospects are more mysterious and intriguing if they're 3 years from their 'ETA'
    • USAFChief and beckmt like this

This is maybe a topic for a new thread. But people seem very hung up on Realmuto. Why has no one brought up trading for DeGrom or Syndergaard right now? I don't think the returns the Mets would get from either of them will be all that different than the return needed for Realmuto.  

 

Doesn't an Ace to go with Berrios, Romero and Gibson go a longer way to building a real contender next season?

    • Thrylos, Twins33, 70charger and 7 others like this

 

On the surface I don't think there's anything wrong with this statement. But in reality, trading your top assets for a Catcher does not "build a window".It makes a 72 win team a 76 win team. Way more moves need to be done to "build a window"

If Buxton and Sano, with the current MLB youngsters and high minors help, are not the answer, there is no window.

 

If they are real, the window is now.

 

The perfect storm of misfortune that is 2018 shouldn't cloud the picture of whether or not the Twins should plan on 2019-2020 as being the time to go for it.

 

It's a no-lose situation. Either you added to a good team needing a catcher, or you added a good, tradeable catcher to a team that wasn't going to contend anyway for the foreseeable future and can be dumped at next year's deadline for a similar haul.

    • Carole Keller, markos, Rigby and 2 others like this

This is maybe a topic for a new thread. But people seem very hung up on Realmuto. Why has no one brought up trading for DeGrom or Syndergaard right now? I don't think the returns the Mets would get from either of them will be all that different than the return needed for Realmuto.

Doesn't an Ace to go with Berrios, Romero and Gibson go a longer way to building a real contender next season?


I would love to acquire either one of those pitchers.

 

If Buxton and Sano are not the answer, there is no window.

 

If they are real, the window is now.

 

 

So you are confident they are real? You want to trade for Realmuto now it seems. While 1 is in A ball and 1 is in AAA, that is a heck of a gamble to make. 

 

BTW - I don't disagree if they both figure it out, there could be a window next season. But there is no way I am taking the gamble of making a monster trade like this now. If that means missing out on Realmuto, oh well. 

 

For what its worth I'd also probably make Lewis untouchable, which may take you out of the running for a Realmuto anyways

    • SF Twins Fan and Andrew Thares like this

 

So you are confident they are real? You want to trade for Realmuto now it seems. While 1 is in A ball and 1 is in AAA, that is a heck of a gamble to make. 

I think the gamble is assuming they are NOT real.

This is maybe a topic for a new thread. But people seem very hung up on Realmuto. Why has no one brought up trading for DeGrom or Syndergaard right now? I don't think the returns the Mets would get from either of them will be all that different than the return needed for Realmuto.

Doesn't an Ace to go with Berrios, Romero and Gibson go a longer way to building a real contender next season?


Because the offense collapsed this year and C is one of the biggest culprits.
    • tvagle likes this
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ashburyjohn
Jul 10 2018 08:12 AM

If Kirilloff could be the centerpiece, as this article started off having me thinking was the suggestion, I'd be all for it. Corner outfielders are valuable but not critical to a team's plans. And this team's rosters have been sclerotic for several years because of an overabundance of corner types - "and if that doesn't work out, he can always DH". You can only have one DH per game, and the roster gets clogged. We saw it in The Ryan Doumit Era, we still see it now.

 

Up-the-middle prospects are a different story, and starting pitching in particular is the coin of the realm.

 

And I'll keep repeating, IMO a stud catcher is a luxury for only the richest or most complete teams. The best catcher in the world doesn't play every game, and if he's that good then you'll want to DH him for his days off, and then you can't house a full-time DH, and pretty soon you're juggling the 25-man roster, with 3 catchers as the end-game the manager wants to reach. A stud catcher is great, but needs to be the final piece to the puzzle, such that the rest of your roster is good enough that he can be benched on his days off - and a part-timer being paid full-time wages is, as I said, a luxury.

 

    • Twins33, 70charger, Blackjack and 2 others like this

 

Because the offense collapsed this year and C is one of the biggest culprits.

 

Twins catchers hit .231/.335/.383 last season and the Twins scored the 7th most runs in the major leagues

    • TFRazor likes this

 

I think the gamble is assuming they are NOT real.

 

Lost me here. Holding on to Lewis and Kiriloff is a gamble?

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Nick Nelson
Jul 10 2018 08:19 AM

 

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

Yes, we all know how smoothly Joe Mauer returned from that "minor" arthroscopic knee surgery in 2010.

 

It's odd to me that you're defending this stance so vigorously based on the fact that you, a non-MLB catcher, have had knee surgeries in the past. Respectfully, I don't really think that makes you an expert, and the idea that an injury described by the team's own website as "much more serious than expected," requiring a surgery that cost him the rest of the season in early May, isn't major is kinda silly. Repeating your argument again and again without evidence or factual support isn't convincing.

    • USAFChief, Vanimal46 and SF Twins Fan like this

The only way anybody gets Miami to part with Realmuto is overpayment.

 

I don't think the Twins are in any position to overpay, regardless of the return.

    • Oxtung, Blackjack, Major League Ready and 1 other like this
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Nick Nelson
Jul 10 2018 08:22 AM

 

If Buxton and Sano, with the current MLB youngsters and high minors help, are not the answer, there is no window.

 

If they are real, the window is now.

 

The perfect storm of misfortune that 2018 shouldn't cloud the picture of whether or not the Twins should plan on 2019-2020 as being the time to go for it.

Yes, this. The Twins haven't won 90 games in eight years. This is the window of contention they've been building toward. I'm just tired of continually pushing back the goal posts and hoping the next wave of prospects will be the ones to push them through.  

 

This system has as much depth as it has at any time I can remember. The Twins won't be gutting their future chances by dealing away a couple of top-end pieces. Players like Realmuto are VERY rarely available on the trade market.

 

It's a situation to take advantage of, IMO. 

    • USAFChief, Vanimal46, gagu and 2 others like this

 

Yes, we all know how smoothly Joe Mauer returned from that "minor" arthroscopic knee surgery in 2010.

 

It's odd to me that you're defending this stance so vigorously based on the fact that you, a non-MLB catcher, have had knee surgeries in the past. Respectfully, I don't really think that makes you an expert, and the idea that an injury described by the team's own website as "much more serious than expected," requiring a surgery that cost him the rest of the season in early May, isn't major is kinda silly. Repeating your argument again and again without evidence or factual support isn't convincing.

 

Joe Mauer is 6'6", he was always going to have trouble catching long term.Comparing a mid-Dec surgery to a Mid-May surgery when it comes to being ready for the following season is pretty silly btw

 

It has nothing to do with my knee surgeries, I am not a professional athlete. It has everything to do with the fact I understand what the procedure he had done was and it's very clear you and others in this thread don't, evidenced by the fact you keep calling a 30 minute procedure where they don't even open you up "major".It's a long recovery, 3-4 months to full health, because you need to give it 6 weeks of not bending fully so the stitches can heal. 

 

FYI so you know for the future the "much more serious than expected" line - it means the surgery required him to have his meniscus repaired instead of removing the tear. Aka - worse for 2017. It is much better for his long term knee health that it was repaired

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Andrew Thares
Jul 10 2018 08:31 AM

 

Not to pick on you or make this personal, but I feel like I could have read this exact past five years ago, speaking about 2016-2018 as "the window."When all that young talent reaches the majors and is dominating.

 

And four years ago about 2017-2019 as "the window."

 

etc etc etc

 

I think the better option is to build your own window, rather than waiting for a window to build itself. Not to mention there's no guarantee you'll have trade opportunites available in 2020, or the assets to acquire such trade opportunities if they do exist.

If it is a better option to just build yourself your own window as opposed to waiting, then why did an overwhelming majority of teams that are competitive right now not do it that way? Sure some of these teams have traded for marquee players or signed some big name free agents, but they all did that after they had an established group of players they had developed themselves.

 

The Astros and Cubs weren’t out trading for or signing big name players before they were competitive. Even the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers were mostly built up on either prospects or players who they acquired before they were any good (I.E. Hicks, Didi, Turner & Taylor).

 

If even the teams in those big markets feel that the best way to build a roster is by first establishing a young core, then what chance do the Twins have of trying to build a team by giving up large amounts of their assets in order to do so?

 

Once the team has established themselves as a good team, then it is time to start making moves like this, but not now.

 

    • alarp33, 70charger, Blackjack and 1 other like this

 

If it is a better option to just build yourself you own window as opposed to waiting why did an overwhelming majority of teams that are competitive right now not do it that way? Sure some of these teams have traded for marquee players or signed some big name free agents, but they all did that after they had an established group of players they had developed themselves.

 

The Astros and Cubs weren’t out trading for or signing big name players before they were competitive. Even the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers were mostly built up on either prospects or players who they acquired before they were any good (I.E. Hicks, Didi, Turner & Taylor).

 

If even the teams in those big markets feel that the best way to build a roster is by first establishing a young core, then what chance do the Twins have of trying to build a team by giving up large amounts of their assets in order to do so?

 

Once the team has established themselves as a good team, then it is time to start making moves like this, but not now.

Off the top of my head, I believe the Cubs signed Jon Lester to a $150 deal in December of 2014, coming off a 71-91 season. I bet I can find more examples if I spend 5 minutes looking them up.

 

Perhaps they felt they already had the pieces needed to compete, and were simply adding to it.

 

Sort of like the Twins, with Sano, Buxton, Berrios, Kepler, Rosario, Polanco, etc.The exact guys they've been building this "window" around for half a decade.

 

I just have never agreed with the philosophy of waiting until you're really good, before you try to get really really good.

 

IMO, that's how you spend decades waiting to get really good. Tha's not how the Yankees and Red Sox got where they are. They assess their needs, and then fill them, by whatever means necessary. Or at least try.

    • Rigby, Vanimal46, gagu and 1 other like this
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ChrisKnutson
Jul 10 2018 08:38 AM
If the Twins are as serious about contending as they say they are, they have to show the willingness to do whatever it takes to acquire Realmuto and sign Machado for the 2019 season, no excuses.


I’m sorry, but we shouldn’t expect anything less than a lineup like this next year.


CF- Byron Buxton
C- J.T. Realmuto
SS- Manny Machado
LF- Eddie Rosario
3rd- Eduardo Escobar
1st- Kennys Vargas (Maybe Hanley Ramirez?)
DH- Mitch Garver
2nd- Jorge Polanco
RF- Max Kepler

Thinking about this, and as good as Realmuto is, he's not the guy I'd pay the price for in the current situation.

 

If he was three years younger, I'd be all over it. I don't want a guy for two years at the price it will take, which lets be serious here, that's probably Lewis as a headliner or Graterol and Romero along with some other top 15/20 guys.

    • alarp33, Oxtung, 70charger and 4 others like this
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Nick Nelson
Jul 10 2018 08:41 AM

 

Joe Mauer is 6'6", he was always going to have trouble catching long term.Comparing a mid-Dec surgery to a Mid-May surgery when it comes to being ready for the following season is pretty silly btw

Ah, good thing Castro is two inches shorter and thus very much assured to have no issues returning from a full meniscus repair — in a knee where he's already had meniscus damage and a torn ACL — at age 31. 

 

Of course, the elephant in the room here is that Castro wasn't especially good before going down. His upside at this point is average part-time catcher who will be on his way after 2019. 

    • Carole Keller, USAFChief and Kevin like this
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Andrew Thares
Jul 10 2018 08:43 AM

 

Off the top of my head, I believe the Cubs signed Jon Lester to a $150 deal in December of 2014, coming off a 71-91 season.

The Cubs were also getting Lester for 6 years at the beginning of what was going to be a 5 or 6 year window. The Cubs knew that many of their top prospects were coming up in 2015, and made that move knowing they were ready to compete. Which was evident by the 98 win season they put up that year and the 103 win season they put up after that.

 

The Twins won't have many of their best players coming up until 2020 at the earliest, which is when Realmuto's contract ends.

 

Ah, good thing Castro is two inches shorter and thus very much assured to have no issues returning from a full meniscus repair — in a knee where he's already had meniscus damage and a torn ACL — at age 31. 

 

Of course, the elephant in the room here is that Castro wasn't especially good before going down. His upside at this point is average part-time catcher who will be on his way after 2019. 

 

Again, "full mensicus repair" is a good thing for his long term knee health. I don't know why you keep using that as a negative. If he had the tear shaved instead, he'd likely be back playing by now but a much bigger question mark in the future. 

 

With 9 months to recover before Spring training he will be 100% going into next season. Whether he can hit, who knows but probably not


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