Heading into the offseason, the Miami Marlins had one of Major League Baseball’s strongest offensive cores. The group consisted of outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, along with leadoff man and second baseman Dee Gordon, and fast-rising catcher J.T. Realmuto. Collectively, they were a big reason why many thought the Marlins could be a starting pitcher or two away from competing for a postseason spot in 2018.
As we know now though, that’s not going to happen. Once Derek Jeter and his ownership took over in October, the fire sale began, leaving Miami’s once promising lineup gutted.
Now, as February begins, only Realmuto remains among those exceptional players. But that won’t be true for long if he gets his way. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Realmuto’s agent, Jeff Berry, is making it clear that Realmuto wants to be next in line to be traded, ideally before spring training begins.
“No matter how his arbitration hearing turned out, J.T.’s preference remains the same,” Berry revealed on Friday. “He would like to be traded to another organization before spring training so he has an opportunity to compete for a championship.”
The comments were the first real indication of where Realmuto’s head has been this winter. They came on the heels of Realmuto losing his arbitration case to Miami, though it’s made clear his discontent existed before that outcome. The 26-year-old catcher requested a $3.5 million salary after hitting a combined .290 with 28 homers and 113 RBIs over the last two seasons. He’ll instead receive the $2.9 million Miami offered.
The money isn’t insignificant, but it’s the bigger picture that’s of more concern to Realmuto. With Stanton, Ozuna, Yelich and Gordon all traded, the Marlins are at square one of what could be an extensive rebuild. For a competitive player entering his prime, that’s enough to raise concerns. Beyond that, if the Marlins couldn’t make room for the stars they’ve traded, his days are probably numbered anyway. Why not try to get out now so he can get a full training camp in with a new team.
Realmuto is under Marlins control through 2020. That, in part, makes him more attractive to Miami, along with his ability to work with a young pitching staff. Those factors could lead to a higher demand in prospects than teams are willing to give Miami. But if Realmuto and his agent make enough noise, perhaps they’ll leave Jeter and company with no choice.
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