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OC Register: Angels Offseason Options: J.T. Realmuto

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(This is the first in a series of quick profiles on players who fit for the Angels to add over the winter. This is purely “informed speculation,” based on what we know about the Angels’ roster needs along with General Manager Billy Eppler’s preferences and history. We’ll have a new one every weekday, until the GM Meetings, which are the unofficial start of the hot stove season.)

J.T. REALMUTO, catcher, Miami Marlins

The basics: Realmuto is the best all-around catcher in baseball. Next year will be his age 28 season. He’s a right-handed hitter.

2018 season: He hit .277 with 21 home runs and an .825 OPS, both career highs.

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible for two more years before free agency, set to make around $5 million to $6 million in 2019.

Why he makes sense: Although José Briceño and Francisco Arcia did well in short stints last season, it’s unlikely the Angels view either as a No. 1 catcher. When Eppler was describing how he believes the Angels have internal options for most of their everyday spots, he conceded that catcher is a position at which they need to be “open-minded.” Realmuto can also play first base, so he could help share that spot with Albert Pujols, so the Angels could keep his bat in the lineup even when he’s not catching.

The prospect cost for Realmuto would be steep, but it might still make sense. In November 2015, when the Angels were staring at a potential void at shortstop, Erick Aybar was coming into his final year and the Angels had no heir apparent. In that case, they simply paid the high prospect price for Andrelton Simmons. Eppler reasoned that shortstops of that caliber just don’t become available often, and it was worth the cost. You could say the same about Realmuto.

It’s safe to guess that dealing for Realmuto would require two of the Angels’ top 10 prospects, and maybe even a third lesser prospect. There is probably room for a deal that wouldn’t include top prospect Jo Adell, though. If the Angels did get Realmuto, they probably would have depleted their prospect capital to the point that they couldn’t make any other major trades this winter.

Why he doesn’t: Even for only two years, it’s possible the prospect cost for Realmuto would be exorbitant. There are other teams looking for catchers, and the market is thin. The top free agents are Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. The Marlins also might choose to build around him, signing him to an extension.

GettyImages-999717284.jpg?fit=620%2C9999
Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto is a player the Angels could consider pursuing in the offseason, but the asking price is sure to be steep. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

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I don't see it happening. Paying prospects for short term rentals are part of what led to an expensive team with no farm system. Obviously one deal won't suddenly break the organization, but why give up significant prospects and money for a 4-win player like Realmuto when you can keep your prospects and just pay the money for a 3-win player like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos?

It's not that I'm opposed to bringing in a good player like Realmuto, or even spending a big amount of prospect capital, but I think you only sacrifice future value in dealing good prospects like that if the major leaguer you're getting in return is the difference between playoffs or no playoffs. 

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I would think the Angels would have a trade and sign conversation with Realmuto before negotiations move forward to a deal.

He was wanting a trade when the Marlins fire saled everyone else but him and I doubt he has any intention of signing with the Marlins with their history of never committing to winning and truly no fanbase. 

For that reason I think the Marlins are not as much in the driver's seat for a prospect haul since they know their player wants out and so does every other team. And if they wait out the Marlins demands this year they pick him up when he has even less trade value next.

Depending on the package the Angels could make this work and end up with a 6 year solution for catcher. 

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It wouldn't be a signing, unless we are going to wait two years and sign him when he is 30. Catcher is a position that takes a high physical toll on a player, especially knees. Picking up one on the wrong side of 30 on a 4-5 year deal might not be a great idea. 

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I’m extremely leery of spending on Grandal or Ramos. They’ll require multiple years and they could start declining as soon as 2019.

Realmuto is going to cost more than I would like to give up for him, but I can’t argue that he wouldn’t be a great fit. My only concern would be that last year winds up as a ‘career’ year of sorts and he winds up settling as a 110 OPS+ 2-3 WAR guy and not the 130+ OPS+ 4+ WAR guy we pay for, but he’d still be a very solid acquisition nonetheless. 

How about Tucker Barnhart? He seems sort of like a poor man’s Yasmani Grandal. Switch-hitter, comparable BB:K, good defense and framing, and being only 27, he is young enough you don’t have to worry too much about him being overplayed and he has some offensive potential he might grow into.

Short of a fair deal for Realmuto, I think I’d be just as happy with Eppler nabbing someone like Maldonado again - a guy who’s been relegated to a back-up role or is under the radar who will come cheaply, provide great defense, and might have a little untapped offensive potential that could emerge with full-time play.

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Barnhart is an interesting thought.

Does appear that his tremendous 44% CS in 2017 was an outlier.   Otherwise, generally from mid 20’s to mid 30’s.

Discounting Great American Park being very hitting friendly, his plate discipline seems to be solid enough.

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32 minutes ago, totdprods said:

James McCann and Austin Hedges are also some trade options.

Cervelli?

The general consensus is the Padres aren't interested in trading Hedges or Mejia.  Though admittedly, I'd go nuts if the Angels dealt for Hedges.  The rest of the country hasn't quite caught on to how good this kid is.  Maybe the best defensive catcher I've ever seen (minus a younger Yadi Molina) and enough power and upside that he can break out the way Andrelton Simmons did after being dealt. 

But I don't see San Diego trading him.  The amount of pitching talent they have on the farm that'll be coming up to the majors in a year or two, they're going to need a great veteran catcher to guide those kids and he's the perfect player for that role. 

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2 hours ago, totdprods said:

I’m extremely leery of spending on Grandal or Ramos. They’ll require multiple years and they could start declining as soon as 2019.

Realmuto is going to cost more than I would like to give up for him, but I can’t argue that he wouldn’t be a great fit. My only concern would be that last year winds up as a ‘career’ year of sorts and he winds up settling as a 110 OPS+ 2-3 WAR guy and not the 130+ OPS+ 4+ WAR guy we pay for, but he’d still be a very solid acquisition nonetheless. 

How about Tucker Barnhart? He seems sort of like a poor man’s Yasmani Grandal. Switch-hitter, comparable BB:K, good defense and framing, and being only 27, he is young enough you don’t have to worry too much about him being overplayed and he has some offensive potential he might grow into.

Short of a fair deal for Realmuto, I think I’d be just as happy with Eppler nabbing someone like Maldonado again - a guy who’s been relegated to a back-up role or is under the radar who will come cheaply, provide great defense, and might have a little untapped offensive potential that could emerge with full-time play.

I think this is a pretty likely scenario. I think if Realmuto costs too much, he’d rather grab an Andrew Knapp and spend his money and prospects on pitching than pay for the decline of a Grandal/Ramos.

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The interesting part of this is Eppler could go one of many routes to upgrade any position now that he has some prospect chips too trade with. He has already made some very good deals with limited resources so I doubt he will get fleeced trading for a guy like Realmuto. The only caveat is that other GMs may just offer way too much just like they do in free agency, inflating the market value. 

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34 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I think this is a pretty likely scenario. I think if Realmuto costs too much, he’d rather grab an Andrew Knapp and spend his money and prospects on pitching than pay for the decline of a Grandal/Ramos.

Andrew Knapp, Chirinos, Diaz from PIT, Narvaez from CHW, James McCann...you could sort of replicate the Maldonado deal (even to the point of offering Arcia/Briceño a la Bandy to a frugal team) and try and get a sort of seasoned back-up, give him a full year (120-130+ GS) and squeeze every ounce of production from him. Build him into a ‘starting’ catcher by giving him a chance and cash him in, again like Maldonado.

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What’s a “fair” deal for JT Realmuto ? I think trading Marsh and a guy like Rengifo is easily fair.  Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball and he’s in his prime.  We’d get him for 2 years and maybe have a shot at signing him.  

this guy would impact the Angels positively more then any other single player that the Angels have a shot at getting.  This is the kind thing that immediately puts the Angels on track to getting back into the playoffs. 

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48 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I think this is a pretty likely scenario. I think if Realmuto costs too much, he’d rather grab an Andrew Knapp and spend his money and prospects on pitching than pay for the decline of a Grandal/Ramos.

Does Andrew Knapp have the defensive upside that Maldanado had ? I genuinely don’t know enough about the guy.  I agree with your idea that the Angels are better off with a Maldanado like project then paying Grandal or Ramos. 

That is if Realmuto isn’t in the cards. 

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27 minutes ago, UndertheHalo said:

What’s a “fair” deal for JT Realmuto ? I think trading Marsh and a guy like Rengifo is easily fair.  Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball and he’s in his prime.  We’d get him for 2 years and maybe have a shot at signing him.  

this guy would impact the Angels positively more then any other single player that the Angels have a shot at getting.  This is the kind thing that immediately puts the Angels on track to getting back into the playoffs. 

That's a very fair deal, but you have to consider that at least five other teams are going to be offering a very high price for him.  That means if the Marlins do indeed trade Realmuto, they're going to be getting back something considerably better than "fair" market value. 

Example, the Astros need a catcher in the worst sort of way next year, and have a pretty stacked offense and full outfield.  The Marlins would likely ask for Kyle Tucker and more, and the Astros would liekly oblige because in their specific instance, Realmuto is the type of player that makes the difference between not winnin gthe division and winning the division, or not winning it all and winning it all, because that's where they are right now. 

The Angels aren't there. 

So if the Angels wanted to top that offer, they'd have to be willing to trade the likes of Jo Adell, and that's just not a good idea. 

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30 minutes ago, UndertheHalo said:

Does Andrew Knapp have the defensive upside that Maldanado had ? I genuinely don’t know enough about the guy.  I agree with your idea that the Angels are better off with a Maldanado like project then paying Grandal or Ramos. 

That is if Realmuto isn’t in the cards. 

I don't know if he's going to win a Gold Glove, but I think he's supposed to be pretty good.

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21 minutes ago, Scotty@AW said:

That's a very fair deal, but you have to consider that at least five other teams are going to be offering a very high price for him.  That means if the Marlins do indeed trade Realmuto, they're going to be getting back something considerably better than "fair" market value. 

Example, the Astros need a catcher in the worst sort of way next year, and have a pretty stacked offense and full outfield.  The Marlins would likely ask for Kyle Tucker and more, and the Astros would liekly oblige because in their specific instance, Realmuto is the type of player that makes the difference between not winnin gthe division and winning the division, or not winning it all and winning it all, because that's where they are right now. 

The Angels aren't there. 

So if the Angels wanted to top that offer, they'd have to be willing to trade the likes of Jo Adell, and that's just not a good idea. 

I don’t think that the Angels should trade Adell.  But I also don’t think that would be necessary.  I would trade basically any combination of prospects not named Adell or Canning for Realmuto.  Realmuto is just as big of a difference maker for the Angels as he is potentially for the Astros.  Are you actually arguing that the Astros need a guy like JT Realmuto more then the Angels ? I disagree strongly.  The Angels have a lot of high end outfield prospects.  We should deal from that pool and we should do it now.  All of these guys are not going to play outfield for the Angels. 

Also, if the Astros are our primary competition for JT Realmuto.  Isn’t there a shit load of value in making sure they don’t get him ? I mean, they also happen to be our primary competition in the AL West.  If the Astros get Realmuto.  They get better and everyone else, including the Angels gets worse.  

I mean, how long is the club going to keep deferring to the Astros ? Our players aren’t getting younger.  I do want the Angels to cultivate a strong development system.  But I also want the Angels to actually compete.  They have a core group of players now, that should push them to attempt to compete. There’s a draft every year.  Don’t massively F*ck up drafts and it’ll be fine to trade some guys. 

Edited by UndertheHalo

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As I said in the story, when Andrelton Simmons was available, I thought "There's no way the Angels would pay the prospect cost for a guy that lots of teams will want." But to Eppler...

1. Simmons was the type of player who isn't often available (a middle of the infield guy in his prime)

2. It was a spot where the Angels had basically zero internal answers.

So he paid the price. That's why I think they will at least entertain the idea of getting Realmuto.

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42 minutes ago, UndertheHalo said:

What’s a “fair” deal for JT Realmuto ? I think trading Marsh and a guy like Rengifo is easily fair.   

It may be fair to you but no way would the Marlins jump on that....Marsh is a good prospect, Rengifo may have figured things out this year, we'll see....regardless, I think they can get a better deal than that....and probably will....

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8 minutes ago, UndertheHalo said:

Also, if the Astros are our primary competition for JT Realmuto.  Isn’t there a shit load of value in making sure they don’t get him ?

Braves have also been mentioned.....and their farm system is deeper than ours....

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