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MLB trade rumors: Nationals, Marlins discussing J.T. Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto could be the next star to leave Miami.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

The Nationals are making the strongest push to acquire Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to Craig Mish of SiriusXM.

Realmuto, 26, has quickly become one of the best catchers in the majors, and he’s coming off a very strong season in which he posted a .278/.332/.451 slash line with 17 homers in 579 plate appearances. He reportedly requested a trade after Miami traded Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon in December, and while Mish mentions that some “fences have been mended” between Realmuto and the Marlins, it’d be borderline cruel for Miami to force him to stick around at this point and play for what effectively amounts to a Triple-A team after they traded outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers on Thursday.

Though they’ll pay Matt Wieters $10.5 million in 2018, the Nationals could use an upgrade behind the plate after Wieters posted a career-worst .225/.288/.344 slash line with 10 homers while struggling defensively in 2017. There are several veteran catchers. including Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila, who are still on the free-agent market and would be candidates to share time with or supplant Wieters in 2018. But if Washington has an opportunity to upgrade the position for the long term and avoid a timeshare or platoon arrangement, it’d make sense for them to do so.

Realmuto is under club control through 2020, so the price to acquire him will presumably be pretty steep, but that shouldn’t be too tough of an issue for the Nationals, especially since they have plenty of near-major-league-ready depth in the outfield, where the Marlins are currently the weakest after trading Stanton, Ozuna, and Yelich and letting fourth outfielder Ichiro Suzuki walk. Washington also has four catchers — Severino, Raudy Read, Taylor Gushue, and Jakson Reetz — among its top 30 prospects as ranked by MLB Pipeline, so they’d be in position to send a potential replacement for Realmuto to Miami in a trade. The biggest predicament for the Nationals could come if the Marlins insist on acquiring top prospect Victor Robles in a trade. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted Thursday that the Marlins have been asking for him in trade talks, but if Washington trades him, they could be left without an effective replacement for Bryce Harper in 2019.