The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the market for a new starting catcher. J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins seems like the perfect fit for this role – but what kind of package would it take to wrestle the All-Star away from Miami? Nevertheless, Realmuto is arbitration-eligible following the 2019 season, and can’t reach free agency until 2021 ends.
Within this post, we examine the pieces the Dodgers could use as bait in a trade to lure the nice fish from Miami.
Good left-handed starting pitchers typically get a conversation going, and Alex Wood has been classified as ‘good’. An All-Star in 2017, Wood regressed slightly in 2018 albeit still solid numbers. Wood is arbitration-eligible now and stands to get a slight pay raise from his current $6M salary. With solid career numbers (52-40, 3.29 ERA), Wood could be penciled in as a near-frontline starter for Miami from day one. The Marlins have struggled to find solid starting pitching depth since the untimely death of Jose Fernandez, and the Dodgers have a surplus as of now of starters. Wood gets the conversation going.
Ferguson was called up as a starter – but moonlighted as a reliever for the Dodgers in 2018. The rookie acclimated himself well to the game’s highest level in 2018. He finished the year with a 7-2 record, 3.49 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 49 innings. With a phenomenal minor league track record on his resumé – Ferguson figures to play up as a starting pitcher in the long-term. Still, why would the Dodgers want to include Ferguson in this deal with his youth and high upside? To be fair – you have to give up someone of value to get something of value. With the way the Marlins are structured, they won’t just accept high-priced veterans for Realmuto. It will take at least one player of Ferguson’s ilk to get this deal to the table. Ferguson made just $545,000 in 2018 and will make only slightly more in 2019. Nevertheless – with several pitches and an arm that can touch mid to high 90’s with his fastball – Ferguson could be considered a key piece.
An Outfielder: Yasiel Puig or Joc Pederson
Let me begin this by saying that I would loathe seeing either Joc Pederson or Yasiel Puig involved in a trade. However, the fact of the matter is the Dodgers have a glut of outfielders; and the logjam could be solved by a trade. Cody Bellinger figures to receive more playing time in the outfield in 2019 with Max Muncy and (presumably) David Freese occupying first-base. This simply means less at-bats to go around for Puig and Pederson.
Puig is still a good big league player – his 2.7 fWAR in 2018 when the dust settled says as much. The Wild Horse is a nice fit in Los Angeles. The Miami community values exciting, latin-born players. No player has ever breathed who is more entertaining to watch. This could make Puig a major drawing-card for that organization. Puig could be a great headline act in Miami who does good things for that community and connects with the fan base. His numbers are also solid – 23 homers, 15 steals and great defense in a corner outfield spot.
Pederson – by all indications – is thought to have some value in league circles. He’s hit 25 or more home runs in three of the last four seasons and has a career OPS around .800 due to decent on-base skills. Still just entering his age-27 season, he doesn’t yet make a mammoth salary. A free agent after 2021 – Pederson doesn’t have anything that would appear to detract from his value to Miami.
Realmuto was thought to be on the move at the 2018 deadline. When this didn’t happen, the logical explanation was that the Marlins could get more of a haul in the 2018 offseason. Now, with that time being the present; you can expect them to field a surplus of calls on the valuable young catcher. The Dodgers need to be aggressive in their pursuit of Realmuto if they’re to land him. This will require both pieces of sentimental and analytical value – but the payoff could be huge. If the Dodgers lock down an All-Star caliber piece behind home plate without giving up a true integral piece – it’s a step in the right direction to winning another NL pennant.
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