The Mets are talking with the Marlins about a potential trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto, a source said, but the Mets would have to center a package around at least one young major-league player.
Realmuto, arguably the best catcher in baseball, has two years of team control left, and the rebuilding Marlins are shopping him. The Mets are far from alone in their interest in Realmuto.
A source said last month that Miami believed the Mets’ farm system wasn’t deep enough to make a prospects-only deal for Realmuto. That’s even more true now, after the Mets sent outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn to Seattle in the deal that brought Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York.
Hence, the Mets’ need to lead with a controllable big leaguer. Although it’s not clear which names have been discussed, among the players who fit that description are outfielder Brandon Nimmo (scheduled to be a free agent after the 2022 season) and shortstop Amed Rosario (after the 2023 season). There’s also outfielder Michael Conforto, who has three years of team control left, and infielder Jeff McNeil, a rookie in 2018 who doesn’t have the same track record/status as the others.
Parting with any of those players would mean upgrading one position at the cost of downgrading another, creating another hole for the Mets to fill via free agency.
With the Mariners trade, however, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen showed he’s not afraid to get creative.
“We have a winning mindset and collectively we believe that everything is possible and nothing is impossible,” Van Wagenen said Tuesday.
Realmuto, 27, was a first-time All-Star in 2018, when he slashed .277/.340/.484 with career bests in homers (21) and RBIs (74) for the last-place Marlins.
The Mets have Kevin Plawecki, Travis d’Arnaud and Tomas Nido as catchers on their 40-man roster. Van Wagenen has said the Mets are happy to roll with that trio if need be.
“[Realmuto is] an attractive player to the Marlins, first and foremost, and I'm sure he'd be attractive to every other club out there,” Van Wagenen said last month. “That type of player — an impact player offensively and defensively — we will be looking to explore all avenues to acquire those types of players, be it free agency or a trade.”
Realmuto’s agent is Jeff Berry of the Creative Artists Agency, Van Wagenen’s former employer. Berry also represents Mets ace Jacob deGrom.