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

alex kirilloff
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:00 PM

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.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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#2 jorgenswest

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:56 PM

If Lewis is off the table, I don’t think they need to make the call. Teams do trade prospects like Lewis. Someone will and the Twins will be left watching.
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#3 Nick Nelson

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:14 PM

Perhaps. The Nationals have a pretty desperate need and apparently won’t take that step. As time passes Miami’s leverage shrinks. Are they really gonna get a better package offered than Kirilloff + Romero?
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#4 tvagle

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:18 PM

Threw this out there the other day

 

http://twinsdaily.co...or-the-offense/

 

Couldn't agree with you more Nick

 

I'd start with Romero and work from there...fill the hole behind the plate for at least 2 years and go from there

 

Then I'd offer Machado whatever he wanted for 2 years or 4 years or 10 years

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"We were open for business on several players, but just couldn't put a deal together that we liked...our biggest pickups will really be the return of All-Stars Sano and Santana as well as the Platinum Defensive player of the year in Buxton...adding those three to our lineup in the second half without mortgaging any future assets is really the best of both worlds"


#5 jorgenswest

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:19 PM

Perhaps. The Nationals have a pretty desperate need and apparently won’t take that step. As time passes Miami’s leverage shrinks. Are they really gonna get a better package offered than Kirilloff + Romero?


I think the offer will help the Marlins force another team to take that step.

#6 Supfin99

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:29 PM

I absolutely do not want them to deal Kirilloff and Romero for 2 years of Realmuto, let alone Royce Lewis. The Nationals are in the hunt for a World Series and have every reason to make a move like this but won’t do it. We are not in a position this year and most likely not next year to contend for a WS. High end pitchers like Romero are exactly the type we have struggled to develop for the past decade and now we want to trade him away when he’s on the precipice of being a key part of big league rotation? No thanks. Especially not for 2 years of a player. Also I really like Realmuto and he’s having a fantastic 1st half but he also has nearly 1500 at bats prior to this year that says he is a .750 OPS guy. Mitch Garner has .717 OPS in his rookie year and had a .900 OPS season to his credit in the minors. I’d much rather have Kirilloff at 1st, Romero as our number 2 starter and Garver as our starting Cather in 2020 than a soon to be free agent in Realmuto.
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#7 USAFChief

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:36 PM

Realmuto is the kind of deal that teams make if they're serious about winning.

He's going to be traded. Might as well be to the Twins.
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#8 curt1965

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:38 PM

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!
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#9 Vanimal46

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:40 PM

Perhaps. The Nationals have a pretty desperate need and apparently won’t take that step. As time passes Miami’s leverage shrinks. Are they really gonna get a better package offered than Kirilloff + Romero?


It's either going to take a gem of a prospect + middle tier prospects, or 2-3 good to great prospects. Depends on what Miami prefers.

The debate in TX is whether they should offer Kyle Tucker #15-20 overall prospect or Forrest Whitley #10 overall + C/B- level prospects.

#10 Danchat

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:43 PM

Yeah, I'm not trading Romero - I thought we were going to try and win in 2019 & 2020? He has the potential to be really, really good and the Twins need all the high-end pitching they can get. I'd be fine with moving prospects like Kiriloff and Graterol but I'm not trading a guy who should be a key to our short term success.

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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:51 PM

 

Perhaps. The Nationals have a pretty desperate need and apparently won’t take that step. As time passes Miami’s leverage shrinks. Are they really gonna get a better package offered than Kirilloff + Romero?

 

I would doubt it. 

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#12 tvagle

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:55 PM

Gotta spend money to make money...It will hurt to just be in the conversation for JTR

Romero could be one snapped off slider from TJ and then it's a crapshoot

 

As Chief pointed out...this is the type of deal teams looking to win in the next few years make

"We were open for business on several players, but just couldn't put a deal together that we liked...our biggest pickups will really be the return of All-Stars Sano and Santana as well as the Platinum Defensive player of the year in Buxton...adding those three to our lineup in the second half without mortgaging any future assets is really the best of both worlds"


#13 DocBauer

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:12 PM

Not saying yes or no. But I am going to comment.

No to Lewis.

Yes to Kirillhoff if you can make the rest of the deal work. I say this due to overall OF depth in the system, the recent drafting of Larnach...who could be a viable "replacement" in the system...and the current ML unit of Rosario, Buxton and Kepler. (Put away your pitchforks folks, we still knkw all the potential of this group). If I had to include one of Romero or Graterol, I guess I'd include Graterol. Romero is still very young, has a great ceiling, and has, more or less, arrived. Graterol would seem to be a couple seasons away. But that would also be 2 or our top 3 or 4 prospects, depending if you still can Romero a prospect at this point, and that scares me. We'd probably have to throw at least one more top 15-20 player in there, and that just sounds like an awful lot for 2 years and hope for an extension.

I get how good Really do is. And I'd feel different if he had 3 years of control left.

I hate to sound complacent, but I think I'd feel more comfortable making a deal for someone younger in a system, or who may seem blocked, and bring him in to compete with Garver and a hopefully healthy Castro. I'm not sure who that would be, but there have been some names thrown out previously.

Don't misunderstand, I'd love to have Really do behind the plate for us! And maybe I sound naive or overly optimistic to some, but I'd rather concentrate on the return/development of Buxton, Sano, Kepler and Polanco to lead the offense along with Rosario and Escobar. I'd rather look for a better DH/1B or OF option to replace Morrison. I'd rather concentrate on Gordon in the infield, or a veteran stop-gap for a season or two if Dozier is gone.

In what has been a disappointing, frustrating, maddening season, I still think it behooves us to remember and realize the potential of this team, and its young core, especially if augmented with 1 or 2 big or smart moves. Catcher is such an important position for defense, game calling and just handling of the staff. A guy who can provide decent to good offense is outstanding. And they are rare!

Again, not saying no, but the 2 years of control to give up so much just scares me. I think I'd hold on to what I have for one more season, find the best young prospect/back up I could find, or the best veteran stop-gap/FA I could acquire as a second alternative, and see if 2018 wasn't just a bad nightmare and watch my young talent, hopefully, flourish in 2019.

But if they DID make such a bold move, try to move as many lower level talents as possible. It would still hurt, but would also be easier to replace those guys over the next year or two than lose someone like Romero who can be pencilled in for 2019 and beyond.
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#14 DocBauer

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:17 PM

Yeah, I'm not trading Romero - I thought we were going to try and win in 2019 & 2020? He has the potential to be really, really good and the Twins need all the high-end pitching they can get. I'd be fine with moving prospects like Kiriloff and Graterol but I'm not trading a guy who should be a key to our short term success.


Yep.

No matter how talented a prospect is, he's still a prospect. Might regret it later, but a lower level prospect is still easier to acquire...as a replacement draft choice of international FA...than someone on the roster or kicking in the door at the highest levels.
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#15 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:36 PM

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

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:46 PM

If Kyle Tucker is in play, Lewis isn’t going to be enough.
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#17 alskntwnsfn

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:46 PM

IDK... Garver has a wRC+ of 133 since 6/1. We need to keep building the pitching staff and Romero is a potential 1/2 type guy. We can’t move him. Realmuto is a premier catcher, no doubt, but I’d rather have the flexibility to keep or add arms and maybe try to fill one positional need heading into next year. Even though we are second in the standings there is a huge difference between the Twins and the top 4 teams in the AL right now. However, I do believe we can close a lot of ground by next year. Our roster already contains most of the hitters we’ll need to do it (they just have to rebound Sano/Buxton/Kepler or develop Kiriloff/Rooker/Gordon).
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#18 DocBauer

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:47 PM

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


That would really hurt, IMO. Which it means it might work.

But I'm betting you'd have to replace one of those guys with Kirillhoff.
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#19 KirbyDome89

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:49 PM

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. 

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#20 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 10:50 PM

That would really hurt, IMO. Which it means it might work.

But I'm betting you'd have to replace one of those guys with Kirillhoff.


Or maybe just add Baddoo to the deal



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