Mere days away from the beginning of Spring Training, the Dodgers have officially missed out on one of their biggest offseason targets. All-Star Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and an international bonus slot.
With Realmuto heading to the land of Rocky and Utley, a particularly drawn-out chapter of a brutal offseason has finally come to a close. As far back as November, L.A. was widely expected to acquire him to shore up their gaping hole behind the plate. However, the talks stalled when Miami insisted on Cody Bellinger as the asking price in return, a deal-breaker as Bellinger was truly the only untouchable outfielder in an offseason where nearly all of them have been traded or rumored to be.
In my view, losing out on Realmuto has both positive and negative implications for the Dodgers’ 2019 season. The negative side is immediate. While I do believe Yasmani Grandal’s departure to Milwaukee was ultimately best for both himself and Los Angeles, it nonetheless meant the loss of a power bat and top-shelf pitch framing. Barring Austin Barnes rekindling his 2017 potential or Russell Martin replicating Matt Kemp’s 2018 comeback, the team will be much weaker at catcher this season.
On the upside, Realmuto was truly the easiest piece to miss out on given he was only an urgent necessity for 2019. As we all know, catching prospects like Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith are coming up the pipeline fast, and could thus improve the position internally. Given the package Philadelphia sent, we can take solace in not having to deal either of them, as well as Bellinger. It’d be one thing if Realmuto was an all-time great catcher on par with Johnny Bench, Mickey Cochrane, Gary Carter or Mike Piazza, but good as he is, it’s not a huge missed opportunity in the long run.
However, passing on Realmuto is only truly acceptable if the team pulls the trigger on at least one big move before the season begins. They could shore up the rotation from the get-go by making a trade for Corey Kluber, the likelihood of which grows dimmer by the day. They could finally solidify their outfield and lineup by winning the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, a possibility reignited by his recent talks with the division rival Giants. As much as I’d prefer to move on from Johnny No-Hustle, bringing back Manny Machado would give them the best infield in the game and help ease Corey Seager back in at second.
At this very moment, though, the Dodgers’ offseason looks all the worse by missing out on Realmuto. They need to act fast, for if they roll into the 2019 season without at least one elite acquisition, they will have unforgivably squandered an opportune offseason.
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