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Dodgers: A Reality Check On Trading For J.T. Realmuto

Dodgers
Sep 18, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (11) singles in a run in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There are new rumors floating around about the cost of trading for Marlins catcher J.T. Reamulto.

Our Clint Evans wrote yesterday about AM570’s David Vassegh being told that trade talks between the Dodgers and Marlins would start at “somebody like a” Cody Bellinger, and either Yasiel Puig or Alex Verdugo . Because of the absurdity of those names, there were a lot of reactions within our own Dodgers Nation staff, and on Twitter. I tossed this one out as I was just writing some quick thoughts.

Why J.T. Realmuto?

First off, Realmuto was the best offensive catcher in 2018, according to FanGraphs. Yasmani Grandal was second best.

He also won’t clog the bases, as he was measured the fastest catcher in 2018 by sprint speed. He was faster than all but three Dodgers, so you probably won’t have to pinch run for him.

Defensively, where most have complained about Grandal, I put together some key defensive statistics to look at:

 

Innings SB CS PB WP FR FRAA
Realmuto 951.0 34 21 8 34 -0.4 4.3
Grandal 1037.1 52 20 9 31 15.7 17.7

Credits and Abbreviations

Fangraphs

SB – Stolen bases against the catcher
CS – number of runners caught stealing
PB – number of passed balls against the catcher
WP – number of wild pitches thrown by the pitcher while catching

Baseball Prospectus

FR – number of runs saved by pitch framing (Framing Runs)
FRAA – total number of runs saved by factoring in framing, blocking and throwing along with other adjustments (Fielding Runs Above Average)

Looking at the raw defensive data, Realmuto looks like a step down. We all know Grandal had issues with catching the ball in 2018, but it really showed up in the playoffs. There were times during the season where it seemed he had the yips when it came to catching the ball on throws at home plate. That can happen when a player exceeds their limits.

The Rumored Players

These are players that have been part of the speculation we’ve seen and heard about, however, none of these rumors are close to confirmed.

Dodgers
July 31, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) hits out to center against the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Bellinger: Heck no! First of all, Cody has the talent to be a superstar, so I can’t imagine him being a part of any trade for a two year player, even one as good as Realmuto. The Dodgers need more players like Bellinger; fast, versatile, good on both offense and defense. Since Bellinger will also be pretty cheap in 2019 — as he’s not eligible for arbitration yet — he’s a good player to keep around.

Yasiel Puig: Here’s another one we have heard a lot. There is some bad history between Puig and former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, the current manager of the Marlins. However, Puig is a guy that will help the Marlins attract some fans down in Miami. Heck, fire Mattingly if he doesn’t want Puig. I’m a Puig fan and envision the 2019 outfield to be Alex Verdugo, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig. I doubt he is traded to the Marlins as he’s also going to get around $11M in arbitration.

Alex Verdugo: He is an obvious name since he’s a top prospect and has the chance to be very good. For the Dodgers, they either need to commit to Verdugo or trade him. It is not fair to hold him back as he’s another one of those types of players I want the Dodgers to have. He’s good with the glove and the bat, makes good contact and gets on base. His approach at the plate is second only to Justin Turner on the Dodgers.

Gavin Lux: I think he’s reached internal Dodgers untouchable list. Only way he goes is in a bigger trade.

Young Pitchers: It is likely that the Marlins would want young starting pitching in a deal, and the Dodgers have some good ones down on the farm. You would probably need to give up one of Dustin May, Caleb Ferguson, Dennis Santana, Mitchell White or Tony Gonsolin. The prospect hugger in me cringes at losing any of these guys, but at least one would need to be part of the trade.

Young Catchers: I believe Keibert Ruiz and Diego Cartaya are off limits. I did examine the top Dodgers catching prospects a few days ago and the Dodgers are loaded but none will be ready to go in 2019. I would think Will Smith or Connor Wong would have to be part of any deal.

Young Outfielders: After Alex Verdugo there are some good prospects that are still a year or three away from contributing at the Major League level. Some names that could be moved would include D.J. Peters or Jeren Kendall.

The Dodgers have an excellent list of prospects and some would have to be included in any trade for Realmuto.

But What About…

I do not see a scenario where the Marlins take on any money. If someone who would make significant salary is part of the package then the Dodgers would need to take someone back like a Starlin Castro. He has an $8.6 million hit against the luxury tax but he’s not bad. It is possible that if the Dodgers took on Wei-Yin Chen ($16M against tax for 2 more years), Castro or Derek Dietrich then the prospect cost could go down.

Trade Scenarios

As a confirmed prospect hugger, I’d prefer the route of taking on some salary to lighten the prospect load.  Here are some ideas:

Assumptions:

  • The Marlins ignore Mattingly in regards to Puig or fire him
  • Salaries of extra players need to match or come out in favor for the Marlins

Scenarios:

  • Joc Pederson or Puig, Dustin May and Will Smith for J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro
  • Pederson/Puig, Alex Wood, Mitchell White and Connor Wong for Realmuto and Wei-Yin Chen
  • Pederson, May and Smith for Realmuto and Derek Dietrich

For the pure prospect route:

Assumptions:

  • The Dodgers aren’t going to start Verdugo in 2019
  • Marlins aren’t taking on any salary other than minimums
  • I think May might be on the internal Dodgers untouchable list but am including him in trades as he’s a big trade chip
  • Top 10 prospects according to MiLB, in order are Verdugo, Ruiz, May, Lux, Smith, Santana, White, Peters, Kendall and Yadier Alvarez (he’s falling fast)

Scenarios:

  • Verdugo, White, Wong for Realmuto
  • Peters, May, Smith for Realmuto
  • Verdugo, Smith for Realmuto

Final Thoughts

Of course, there are countless trade scenarios that we can all think of — some could include a reliever from the Marlins. Knowing how the Dodgers work we will be surprised in some way. Looking at a lot of the numbers and the cost, don’t be surprised if Yasmani Grandal is the starting catcher in 2019. Also don’t be surprised if it is Austin Barnes and Yan Gomes or similar.

There are other teams trying to trade for Realmuto, and as a result, either the Dodgers or one of those teams will likely set the market. The Marlins can ask for anybody they want but that is just a starting point. I have enough faith in the Dodgers front office that they will take a measured approach to this and any other trade. I do not envision the Dodgers overpaying for Realmuto and if some other team will, they will get him. In terms of likelihood, I think the Dodgers have a 25% chance of getting Realmuto.

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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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  1. Miami perspective here. You’ve built a defensive case for Grandal on a single criteria: the vague, subjective, “art” of pitch framing that most don’t even acknowledge. I’d focus on the fact that runners rarely attempt to run on Realmuto, who is fastest in baseball from catch to second base. How many outs were prevented and runs added by J.T,’s speed on the bases? Last time Realmuto and Barnes were a catching combo, their Jacksonville team won a Southern League championship.

    You want to add a catcher who most acknowledge as the best, a guy who has improved every season, and you want to do so almost painlessly, without sacrificing top prospects.

    Ruiz, Lux and May get the job done. You’ll sign Realmuto to an extension by mid season, blocking Ruiz for the next five years. Does Lux have a clear path to your second base job? Maybe, maybe not. May is no Walker Buehler,

    Let’s get ‘er done.

  2. Starlin Castro, according to Baseball Prospectus, will be paid almost $12MM (not AAV of $8.5MM) in 2019 with a $1MM buyout of his 2020 option, so that is ~ $13MM that would count against Dodgers CBT threshold. Realmuto will become a FA after the 2020 season, so only under team control for 2 seasons. Possibility that 2018 was Realmuto’s career year? Legit possibility that Ruiz could be ready in 2020 (Smith late 2019?) and could be a star in the making. Unless Marlins become more reasonable the Dodgers should pursue other options to team with Barnes in 2019 — let that “leak” to the press.

    • I’ve never read or heard anyone from either the Marlin or Dodger front offices mention a single name in a proposed trade. How can the Marlins be deemed as unreasonable when no offer has ever been proposed or discussed? All the “details” are musings by sportswriters.

      • Yet you mention May, Ruiz, and Lux? Why? Because you read the same reports as I regarding Bellinger, Whitley, Tucker, Robles, et al being discussed. Per Morosi – “Marlins continue to insist on Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley being part of any successful #Astros offer for J.T. Realmto…” so you extrapolate what you believe it would take from Dodgers to make that deal and that package of players is not reasonable.

      • That’s right Lee, most of these stories are just conjecture from the writers because they have to write something. I get that, I just wish they’d be more realistic and a little smarter than writing about “Why the Dodgers should resign Manny” or last year ” Why the Dodgers Should Resign Darvish”. Just stupid!

      • Thanks, I refer to these spreadsheets frequently. By no means am I an expert on the calculation of salaries for CBT purposes, but I read last year that when a player is traded the remainder of his contract is applied to the new team’s calculation. The AAV makes more sense.

  3. How many times do we have to trade away good young ball players, Ruiz should be brought up and played. Please don’t trade standing or young players for another rental, another Miami player we’re not going to keep long term. We need pitching, at one starter and one closer and a set up man. Kelly, is one we should sign.
    Don’t become desperate and trade when we already have, build from the depth in the minors and look into Yeager to coach 3 base, and Bonds to be the hitting coach.

    • Uh exactly how many times have we traded away good young ball players and where are they now? And are we missing them?

  4. Keibert and Lux are off-limits. Both are on our 2020 World Series-winning team.

    Smith, White, Edwin Rios, and (to sweeten the deal) Yadi… before he completely falls.

  5. Tim, I like your numbers chart. I also would not be surprised to see Grandal as our starting Catcher in 2019. Give him less innings, and give Barnesy a few more. That could ignite all the best in both of them.

  6. i cannot see Grandal returning under any circumstances, as he rejected the QO to pursue a multi year deal. And what Dodger fan base did as far as practically booing off the field late in season says a lot. I am not in favor of including Ruiz in any deal however. But some proposed deals mentioned here do not appear to be that reasonable. I say if they trade for Realmuto…OK but in the right deal where we don’t get ‘schooled’ from it.

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