With the Washington Nationals in need of a catcher, Miami Marlins backstop J.T. Realmuto could be a perfect fit.
After years of being spoiled by Wilson Ramos behind the dish, the Washington Nationals employed Matt Wieters at catcher in 2017. In addition to not living up to the standards that Ramos set, Wieters had the worst season of his career.
Now, back-up catcher Jose Lobaton is a free agent. With only one catcher on the roster and no MLB-ready replacement in the minors, the Nats have an obvious need for a catcher. While they could acquire a back-up catcher and keep Wieters as the starter, they should acquire a catcher capable of starting.
2018 figures to be an enormous season for the Nats, and they cannot waste it with Wieters behind the plate. Aside from reportedly helping Gio Gonzalez return to form, Wieters did not produce offensively or defensively in 2017.
If the Nats elect to acquire a new starting catcher this off-season, J.T. Realmuto is an excellent option. Realmuto, a 26-year-old catcher, has spent his entire four-year career with the Miami Marlins.
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However, the Marlins are currently beginning a rebuild, shopping players such as Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon, and would likely be open to trading Realmuto as well. If they do choose to shop Realmuto, the Nats should be all over him.
Realmuto is one of the best catchers in the league, both offensively and defensively. In 2017, he owned a slash line of .278/.332/.451 to go with his 17 homers and five triples. His .278 batting average was second in the MLB among catchers, behind Buster Posey.
According to FanGraphs, Realmuto had a 3.6 WAR, which was third in the MLB among catchers, behind Gary Sanchez and Posey. Adding him to the Nats’ already potent lineup would create the deepest and most dangerous lineup in the league.
Defensively, Realmuto is a gold glove-caliber catcher. According to Baseball Prospectus, he had a 14.5 FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average), which is considered excellent, and ranked fourth among National League catchers.
In addition to framing, Realmuto is also a great blocker. In 2017, he saved 1.6 runs while blocking, which ranked second among NL catchers.
Finally, Realmuto is extremely affordable, especially for a player of his caliber. In 2017, he made just $562,500. He is due for a raise as he enters his first season of arbitration, but he should remain affordable.
Considering Wieters’ unpalatable contract, this could prove to be an enormous asset. Realmuto’s affordability could also be beneficial while negotiating with Bryce Harper.
In addition to being affordable, Realmuto is under team control for three more seasons and is still young at 26 years old. Trading for him would give the Nats one of the best catchers in the league for at least three years, giving Pedro Severino and Raudy Read more time to develop.
Considering his offensive prowess, defensive wizardry, and team-friendly contract, Realmuto is the total package.
With the Nats already well-positioned to win in 2018, acquiring J.T. Realmuto could put them over the top. For a team that is all-in to win it all, Realmuto is an extremely attractive trade target.