The Reds desperately want to be contenders in 2019, so should they consider paying a hefty price to trade for Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto?
J.T. Realmuto is arguably the best catcher in baseball and he’s certainly a player who can help the Reds win more games in 2019. That doesn’t mean Cincinnati’s front office should pay the king’s ransom the Marlins want in exchange for their franchise star.
There’s a reason Realmuto hasn’t been dealt to one of the many teams interested in his services this winter. Derek Jeter and company are very aware that he is their most valuable commodity. As such, they want a ton of young talent in exchange for the 27-year-old backstop.
The Reds certainly have the young talent to make a deal happen. They have four prospects currently ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. Perhaps more importantly, Cincinnati has two players who fall within the top 16. Nick Senzel checks in at No. 6 and outfielder Taylor Trammel is the 16th ranked prospect. the Marlins would love to get their hands on one or both of the Reds’ premium prospects.
Various reports claim that Miami would demand somewhere between two and four premium young talents if they’re going to move Realmuto. That kind of asking price should make the Reds think very hard before they agree to a deal with the Marlins.
Things would be different if they were a player or two away from World Series contention. The front office has done solid work this offseason acquiring players like Sonny Gray, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, but they aren’t quite ready to become legitimate contenders. We are, after all, talking about a team that finished 28.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central last season. The division is one of the toughest in baseball with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals fielding playoff-caliber rosters and expectations.
Catcher also isn’t a particular position of weakness for the team. Tucker Barnhart isn’t nearly the offensive player Realmuto is, but he did win a Gold Glove back in 2017. At the very least, there are other positions the Reds should be prioritizing before making a big move to get better behind the plate.
It’s easy to understand why the Reds are involved in the Realmuto race, but they can’t afford to give up multiple premium assets just to accelerate their rebuild. Unless the Marlins drastically drop their asking price, Cincinnati is better off focusing their energy and resources elsewhere.