The Cincinnati Reds appear to be a long shot to land Miami Marlins’ All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. But, a trade is not yet off the table.
The Cincinnati Reds were caught up in umpteen different rumors last week at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The Reds came away with only Tanner Roark, but appeared to lay the groundwork for several possible trades. The most improbable move that was discussed was a trade for the Miami Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. While improbable, it’s not impossible.
I know the questions that will be asked, and they’re fair. Why should the Reds trade for a catcher, didn’t they just sign Tucker Barnhart to a four-year extension last offseason? Yes. Why should Cincinnati give up assets to acquire a catcher who’s going to demand more in salary than Barnhart? Because he’s better at the dish and gives Cincinnati another power bat in the lineup.
Look, I’m not saying it’s a great idea. In fact, I’d prefer the Reds leave well enough and just go into 2019 with Tucker behind the dish and Curt Casali backing him up. Barnhart is on a very team-friendly deal and Casali will likely make just north $1M next season after his first year of arbitration this offseason.
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Realmuto, who’s in entering his second go around through the arbitration process is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $6.1M next season and will be up for arbitration again in 2020. By contrast, Barnhart and Casali will make approximately $3.8M next season combined.
Shouldn’t Cincinnati just use that $2.3M that they’d save by keeping Barnhart and Casali to invest in starting pitching? In my opinion, yes, but I don’t run the team. In fact, the combined salary that Barnhart and Casali will likely make in both 2020 and 2021, is likely to be similar to what Realmuto would make in 2020 alone.
Don’t forget, in order to get Realmuto from the Marlins, the Cincinnati Reds will have to pony up. We’re talking about at least one of the Reds’ top prospects, likely Taylor Trammell, before the Marlins even entertain the idea of a swap with the Reds.
Now, here’s the one caveat, if the Reds were to acquire Realmuto, Tucker Barnhart becomes expendable. With his contract and work behind the plate, Barnhart will have plenty of suitors coming after him. They’re likely to be the same teams who are currently entertaining a trade for Realmuto. Those teams include the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.
In the end, it’s highly likely that the Cincinnati Reds stick with Barnhart and don’t sacrifice one of their prized prospects for two years of team control of J.T. Realmuto. But, fans should be excited that the Reds are at least thinking outside the box and looking at moves that, no doubt, could make them competitive very quickly.