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Dodgers: Keith Law’s Take on a Realmuto Trade

NAGOYA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 15: Deesignated hitter J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins strikes out in the bottom of 7th inning during the game six between Japan and MLB All Stars at Nagoya Dome on November 15, 2018 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Even with all the latest speculation, ESPN writer and prospect analyst Keith Law said in his latest blog that he believes the Dodgers will not trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Joe: Would it make any sense for the Dodgers to trade Ruiz in a deal for Realmuto?
Keith Law: Definitely not. And I don’t think they will.

Anuj: Is Ruiz and J. Gray for Realmuto too much, fair, or too little?
Keith Law: Too much, and the Dodgers are not trading for a terrible framing catcher.

Those are pretty strong words from Law. He usually has a pretty good sense of how teams value their prospects.

Keibert Ruiz is clearly a highly regarded prospect and the Dodgers have had a strong track record with their previous top prospects. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs had incredibly high praise for Ruiz in his most recent chat.

Jack: I’m a Dodger fan and my brain has been melted by the last two World Series losses, pessimism is all I know. Can you convince me that Keibert Ruiz isn’t Dioner Navarro?

Eric A Longenhagen: I have a 7 on his bat and he has the most accurate arm I’ve ever seen.

“7 on his bat” is shorthand for a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale. To put that into perspective, Corey Seager was given a 60 grade from Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline in 2015. Trading such a talented player would be a mistake, according to Law.

Along with Will Smith, the Dodgers potentially have two elite catchers in the near future.

To add to it, Law mentioned Realmuto’s inability to frame as a reason why the Dodgers won’t trade for him. The team has targeted and employed multiple star pitch framers in the Friedman era. They currently have the 13th (Austin Barnes), 15th (Russell Martin), and 33rd (Rocky Gale) best pitch framers in baseball.

Realmuto’s framing came in at 54th of 117 catchers. It’s hard to say he’s a “terrible framing catcher” but he isn’t helping the team with it.

One could argue that Realmuto’s offensive abilities outweigh his poor framing. Last season, he hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 homers and a 126 wRC+. He would be a clear offensive upgrade for the team but you could also argue strong defense behind the plate is more valuable for a team that relies so heavily on their strong pitching staff.

That isn’t to say Realmuto is a bad defender, but there are a lot of teams now that value pitch framing over everything from their catchers. Stealing strikes for your pitchers can significantly change the outcome of an at-bat and a game.

It seems the Dodgers don’t think Realmuto provides enough extra value over their current stopgap catchers to give up Ruiz in a trade.

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Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

7 Comments

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  1. In MLB parlance, Ruiz should be “untouchable” as were Urias, Seager, Bellinger, and Buehler. But, to be fair, Fangraphs rated Realmuto’s defense as well above average in 2018, and in 2017 he was one of the best defensive catchers in MLB, including excellent pitch framing, blocking, and throwing. Love to have Realmuto catching for Dodgers in 2019, but not at the cost of Ruiz, or Lux, or May.

  2. Realmuto has gotten more press ink during the Hot Stove season than most players get in a career. If a deal is made, fine. If not, as SoCal says, we have some young top flight catching talent to wait for. Go Blue!!

    • SoCal and BLUE LOU! I must concur as well that yes, I would love to have Realmuto, as he figures to be far better offensively than either Martin or Barnes in 2019. HOWEVER, not at the cost of those that SoCal mentioned AND ABSOLUTELY NOT at the cost of Bellinger! No ifs, ands or buts……

      • Well stated, as usual, Paul. I think you have been consulting with PD Jr. again. Have a great weekend. Lets see if the Dodgers pull something off trade-wise in the not-too-distant future. Go Blue!!!

  3. This article is based on adjusted FRAA….framing, blocking, throwing and fielding ground balls…we who watch the Dodgers saw how many times Grandal could not catch THROWS from his defensive fielders and pitchers, throws that would have resulted in OUTS at the plate had they been caught and the runner then tagged….he talks about Russell Martin being 15th and Barnes being 13th……and Realmuto being 54th…..guess who was number ONE in FRAA last season…..you got it Grandal!…….using this ranking to de-value Realmuto can be considered misleading.

  4. Ruiz is an unknown with rare promise we would all like to see how it turns out……Realmuto is a proven commodity who could put the Dodgers over the top right now……..doesn’t really matter since it appears the Reds or Padres will probably get him…….but I’m going to guess he would extend if he could play in LA……..I’m not so sure he will with the Padre or Reds, because I think he wants to play on a series contending team/win right now. Why give up your fee agency if you are stuck on the Padres waiting for them to suddenly contend……it’s just like being a Marlin.

  5. Just keep Ruiz what’s the big deal about Realmuto. Nothing special there except for major hype. Ruiz or Smith can be something down the road or maybe as soon as this season.

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