The Texas Rangers may not be chasing the biggest free agents but they could be in on the biggest trade piece of the offseason.
J.T. Realmuto has been one of the biggest trade targets in the game for nearly a year now and with his impending exit from the Miami Marlins, the Texas Rangers reportedly are a team looking to get a crack at the top catcher in baseball. Jon Heyman of Fancred and MLB Network insider tweeted out that the Rangers, along with the Rockies, were “looking to get in on Realmuto”.
Heyman goes on to note that Texas is behind the teams currently dominating the Realmuto headlines. Realmuto is considered by most to be the best all-around catcher in the game and while Isiah Kiner-Falefa shows some potential behind the plate, Realmuto is undoubtedly a massive upgrade.
What Makes Realmuto So Wanted?
Realmuto, 27, is coming off an All-Star campaign in 2018 that saw him post some of the best hitting numbers of his career. His .277 average from the right side of the plate would fill a need for the Rangers and he also has shown flashes of power hitting 21 homeruns and 30 doubles in 125 games last season. He posted a career-best slugging percentage and OPS at .484 and .825 respectively. That slugging percentage would be second highest on the Rangers last season trailing only Joey Gallo and the OPS would be highest on the club by 15 points.
At the plate, clearly, Realmuto gets the job done which is part of why he’s so valuable. Catchers often specialize at the plate hitting or behind it, catching. Finding one that is as good both ways is a rarity and makes them a hot commodity. Realmuto also can play first base when needed and while nobody is looking to move him from behind the plate anytime soon, first base offers an option to give him a day off from behind the plate without taking his bat out of the order. It also gives hope to the idea that he can last many more years in the league transitioning to first once his days behind the plate come to an end.
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What Would Texas Have To Give Up?
If the Rangers were to chase J.T. Realmuto, it would definitely cost them and because the Marlins are in rebuild mode, it would cost them prospects which isn’t quite what Texas is looking to part ways with. Considering there’s upwards of 10 teams interested in Realmuto, there also would be a bit of a bidding war that Texas would get wrapped up in.
To go after Realmuto, logically you’d think Texas would try to build their offer around Jurickson Profar which would open up third base for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. However, Jurickson Profar has the same amount of team control as Realmuto and no doubt the Marlins would want players with more control. That means you’re probably looking at Nomar Mazara as the centerpiece of a deal. Mazara is under team control through the 2021 season and would give the Marlins a player to build around while helping Texas clear out their logjam in the outfield and eliminate another left-handed bat.
Along with Mazara, you’re still having to add at least one more prospect I would guess and I doubt Willie Calhoun would cut it. Pitchers Jonathan Hernandez, Joe Palumbo, and Tyler Phillips seem like some logical candidates to join Mazara as they give the Marlins options to try and develop moving forward.
Does It Happen?
No probably not. Unfortunately. The Marlins are looking to bring in a haul for Realmuto and the Rangers aren’t in a position to be trading away prospects. That in and of itself doesn’t match up and rebuilding teams rarely make deals like this. Additionally, it’s hard to imagine the Rangers sending Mazara, their top trade piece, for a catcher even one as talented as Realmuto. With pitching such a need, Jon Daniels likely would prefer to move Nomar for a plethora of pitching prospects for the future than a starting catcher now. If Realmuto was willing to commit long-term that probably changes things, but without knowing if you’ll have Realmuto past 2020, it doesn’t seem likely.