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Article: Revisiting Realmuto as a Twins Trade Target

alex kirilloff
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:36 PM

How differently might Twins fans at large view this offseason had the team succeeded in signing Yasmani Grandal?

The front office came up short in its pursuit of the top free agent catcher on the market, but that doesn't mean the Twins will give up on securing an upgrade behind the dish.Robert Murray of The Athletic tweeted last week that Minnesota was one of four teams to offer a multi-year deal to Grandal before the catcher signed with Milwaukee for one year and $16 million. KSTP's Darren Wolfson did some digging of his own and confirmed the report, adding that the Twins' offer "was for multiple years in the $13M/year range."

"Talks never gained traction, unfortunately," according to Wolfson. "But the Twins definitely tried."

This development is striking, for a couple of reasons.

1: The Twins have been allergic to long-term commitments this offseason, so the fact they were prepared to hand a hefty one to Grandal seems significant.

2: This is especially true when you consider that the Twins were also said to be in on Robinson Chirinos before he signed with Houston.

Although they've come up empty thus far, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine seemingly had their sights set on acquiring an impact catcher, and perhaps even a long-term solution at the position. It's natural to wonder what this says about their confidence in Mitch Garver sticking at the position, as well as their confidence in Jason Castro coming back from knee surgery at age 31.

For now, I'm more interested in sizing up other options the Twins might consider, should they remain intent on adding a backstop.

The free agency pool has mostly dried up. The "best" remaining names include Matt Wieters, Martin Maldonado and Stephen Vogt. If the Twins want to land a real difference-maker, they'll need to look to the trade market, where J.T. Realmuto's name has been floating around all offseason.

Here's the skinny on Realmuto: He turns 28 in March, and has been one of the league's elite catchers for the past three years, rising to the top of the pack in 2018 when he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger.

YEAR | WAR (Rank Among MLB Catchers)
2016: 3.7 (3rd)
2017: 3.8 (3rd)
2018: 4.8 (1st)

He'll earn $5.9 million in 2019 and is arbitration-eligible once more in 2020. For a team looking to upgrade at catcher, the splashes don't really come bigger than Realmuto. Needless to say, the Marlins are aiming high in trade talks.

The latest report has Miami targeting catcher Francisco Mejia in talks with the Padres. Mejia ranks #32 on Baseball America's new Top 100 prospects list. Last week, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported the Marlins were seeking Keibert Ruiz in discussions with the Dodgers, who have been in hot pursuit of Realmuto for sometime. Ruiz, also a catcher, is at #20 in BA's new rankings.

The Twins can't compete with those teams when it comes to young catching talent, but they do have prospects that would surely pique Miami's interest, with three making Baseball America's list (Royce Lewis at #9, Alex Kirilloff at #15, and Brusdar Graterol at #55). For what it's worth, Mr. Frisaro responded to one of my tweets on the topic by stating, "Kirilloff and you have a deal."

Now, Frisaro is a reporter and not a front-office exec, so take that remark as you will. But clearly, he's got some insight into the team's thinking, and beyond that, his assertion seems completely reasonable.

If it's true, and the Marlins would go for a package headlined by Kirilloff, then... that's something. I'm not saying it's a no-brainer by any means, but it would need to be strongly considered. I theorized about putting together a Kirilloff-centered package for Realmuto ahead of last year's deadline. The match makes a lot of sense for multiple reasons.

By bringing in Realmuto, the Twins would add another building block and some major assurance to a shaky core. It'd vastly improve the club's outlook for both 2019 and 2020. Given that he's still fairly young and improving, a long-term extension would make sense, and I wonder if Minnesota might be able to take advantage of its short-term spending flexibility to frontload such a contract.

What do you think? Is the biggest splash of this offseason yet to come? Would you be willing to part with Kirilloff as the centerpiece for baseball's reigning top catcher?

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#2 Danchat

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:51 PM

A trade is worth looking into, but I don't think this team should be trading away one of their 3 "super-prospects" for two years of a great catcher. If you're thinking about sending a package of the lower tier guys like Rooker/Larnach/Enlow/Duran/Gordon/Garver, then I'd be more supportive of it. With the Buxton/Sano core tipping towards "bust" and the front office not making any moves to acquire MLB talent, I don't think it makes sense to do the move with a team that doesn't look primed to win now.

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#3 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:56 PM

I don’t think I’d trade one of the top 3 prospects for another position player. I’d really only be willing to move one of them for a top of the rotation pitcher, which the Twins desperately need.
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#4 Nick Nelson

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 10:08 PM

 

A trade is worth looking into, but I don't think this team should be trading away one of their 3 "super-prospects" for two years of a great catcher. 

I assume an extension would be part of the plan if they gave up a Kirilloff-caliber player for him. Give him a big up-front bonus to keep the later years in check. To add some perspective here: Realmuto is three months younger than Mitch Garver.

 

You bring him in and the window is open now, as well as for the foreseeable future. We're talking about a guy with a legit case as the best catcher in baseball. 

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#5 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 10:24 PM

I assume an extension would be part of the plan if they gave up a Kirilloff-caliber player for him. Give him a big up-front bonus to keep the later years in check. To add some perspective here: Realmuto is three months younger than Mitch Garver.

You bring him in and the window is open now, as well as for the foreseeable future. We're talking about a guy with a legit case as the best catcher in baseball.


The player has to be amicable to the extension as well though.
Escobar reportedly turned down a Twins extension offer, only to sign a pretty reasonable extension in Arizona.
That tells me one of two things.
Either the Twins FO has unrealistic expectations of what they can get away with offering for extensions- which might make sense considering rumors of lowball extension talks that never went anywhere with young "core" players last offseason.
Or, this just isn't a place that players want to stay.
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#6 curt1965

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 10:30 PM

I agree! I’d do that trade in a heart beat, but only if there was an extension. Kidilloff might be elite, but Realmuto is “elite-er!”

#7 MN_ExPat

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 10:36 PM

I assume an extension would be part of the plan if they gave up a Kirilloff-caliber player for him. Give him a big up-front bonus to keep the later years in check. To add some perspective here: Realmuto is three months younger than Mitch Garver.

You bring him in and the window is open now, as well as for the foreseeable future. We're talking about a guy with a legit case as the best catcher in baseball.


You make a very good point, though I for one would be loath to give up a player like Kirilloff. Makes me very glad I don’t have to or get to make those decisions.

So I’ll just go sit quietly in the corner eating my crayons (red are my personal favorite). :)
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#8 ScooterDance

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 11:14 PM

This feels like one of those trades that - if we make it Realmuto gets hurt or sucks and Kirilloff is a HoFer. And if we don’t Realmuto is a 9 time all star and 2 time MVP and Kirilloff never amounts to much.
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#9 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 11:24 PM

Realmuto may be better than AK, but are we really in a good position to make that kind of move right now?? Not really... Especially since he’d be this team’s only “superstar,” while most postseason teams tend to have at least 2-3. Doesn’t mean this is a bad team, but there’s no doubt that a lot would need to go our way in order for us to beat Cleveland, even with Realmuto. Simply put, there’s too many question marks on this team for us to make stupid trades like that, we just don’t have that luxury at the moment. Besides, even if we we’re able to outbid the Dodger, Padres, Reds, Braves, Rays, etc, by the time we actually start seriously contending for a WS, Realmuto will already be gone.
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#10 Tom Froemming

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 11:39 PM

I'd certainly entertain this idea, but I'd be more inclined to get a big-time starting pitcher if I'm trading away Kirilloff. Noah Syndergaard?

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#11 Hollywood42

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 11:59 PM

Absolutely not

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#12 h2oface

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 01:35 AM

I remember when, just a couple of years a ago..... Jonathan Lucroy was the Realmuto du jour. How quickly his stock was not even close. 

 

2 years...... to "assume" a trade is coming with an extension is just that. An assumption. A building block needs to last way longer than 2 years. Being way low on Grandal isn't really trying, is it? My bet on Grandal is that he will go the way of Lucroy, and this next season will get him on the market again with Dozier like attractiveness. That is after watching him fall apart defensively and offensively (may, june, and august = horrible) for months of the season out here in LA.

 

Just what was wrong with trying to bring Wilson Ramos home for a couple of years? The money sure was right.

 

 

 

 

Edited by h2oface, 28 January 2019 - 02:08 AM.

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#13 Aerodeliria

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 01:39 AM

While I would love Realmuto, a catcher is a catcher...until he's not a catcher because he tweaks a knee, takes a foul-tip on his throwing hand or gets conked on the noggin. I am always leery of trading away big assets for catchers because they are so prone to injury. Maybe I would trade Garver + May or Garver + Duran or Garver + Larnach + Reed/Hildenberger or something along those lines, but I would be hesitant to send Kirilloff until we know how much upside he really has.

 

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#14 jimbo92107

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 02:54 AM

I would rather have a solid defensive catcher at an affordable price, even if his BA is .200. Hitters like Kirilloff are rare, too. A player that hits in the .300 range with power belongs in the outfield, like Bryce Harper. Twins made that mistake with Mauer, and the Giants made that mistake with Posey. 

 

Great bats are hard to find, and catchers get beat up. Same thing could happen to Realmuto at any time. A few fastballs to the facemask, and he's out for half the season. A hard slide collision, and he's out for a year. 

 

I would rather see the Twins get Drew Butera back, and keep their great farm hitters. 

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#15 Platoon

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 05:39 AM

You can't have an operation philosophy the Twins currently seem to be using, of waiting to see how their best on the MLB roster pan out and make the Kirilloff/Realmuto trade. It doesn't mesh. An extension helps, but clubs who are going to try and develop their own talent, can't trade away the top of the list. They need to make develop the major core of their talent, and then spot fill as the seasons progress. What's more concerning here is Grandal turning down a multi year offer for a one year deal for that difference in dollars.
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#16 old nurse

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 06:04 AM

Grandal's salary for 2019 is 16 million. He signed a contract with a mutual option and a 2.25 Million buyout.2/32 is not such a steep drop from 3/39 or 4/50 which the Mets reportedly offered.


#17 beckmt

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 06:50 AM

Mets offer was supposed to be 4/60,Don't think the Twins went that high, guessing like 4/52 or 3/42.That was not going to get it done.


#18 nasu1970

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 07:08 AM

Here we go again


#19 killertwinfan

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 07:13 AM

I wouldn't invest a lot into the catcher position. It creates too much risk with the new sensitivities to brain injuries.It just creates too much risk for middle market teams.  

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#20 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 07:35 AM

Cruz saw something he liked here and decided to come. Says he sees a young talented team that reminds him of his days in Texas. Not everybody is going to feel that way. Grandal saw the same thing in Milwaukee. That's why I don't agree with comments stating the Twins didn't try hard enough or low balled an offer. Negative commentary without any proof. The Twins have been HORRIBLE for the better part of a decade and the area is unknown to most players who the vast majority of come from warm climates. The only way this team can consistently attract top talent is to build something players want to be a part of.
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