The reigning World Series champion Astros have discussed catcher J.T. Realmuto in trade talks with the Marlins, according to a tweet from Craig Mish of Sirius XM. Mish adds that Miami is asking for top prospect Kyle Tucker in return, and puts 50/50 odds on Realmuto being traded before Opening Day—though those odds appear to include the chance that Realmuto is traded to a team other than the Astros.
The nearly-27-year-old catcher is the final notable trade piece on a Marlins club that has already jettisoned its entire outfield of Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals), Christian Yelich (Brewers) and Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees). The righty swinger slashed .278/.332/.451 with seventeen home runs, all while throwing out base stealers at an above-average rate of 32%. For what it’s worth, Realmuto was quite a bit better in the first half, posting an .818 OPS before the All-Star break compared to a still-solid .742 after it.
As for Tucker, the Astros' second-ranked prospect (after righty Forrest Whitley) batted an excellent .274/.346/.528 with 25 homers and 21 steals, and could cameo in the majors on the tail end of the 2019 season. The Astros were reportedly averse to including Tucker in their trade for Gerrit Cole, but it appears that they’re at least considering it when it comes to the potential of acquiring Realmuto.
Realmuto would most certainly make the 2018 Astros better, even as they already have a solid catching duo in Brian McCann and Evan Gattis, though the latter is expected to spend most of his time at DH with Max Stassi lined up to be the backup catcher. Where the move really could pay off for Houston is in the following two seasons; McCann and Gattis will both hit the open market after the 2018 season, and Realmuto is controlled via arbitration through 2020. Realmuto is due $2.9 million this upcoming season.