To gauge the trade value of potential Mets trade target J.T. Realmuto, I talked with multiple MLB insiders, including two agents, two league executives and three talent evaluators.
Last week, SiriusXM MLB reporter and radio Craig Misch said league sources indicated Realmuto will cost at least high-end, young pitching prospect and a position player.
The consensus I found was that the Marlins do not require a team's top prospect, nor do they require getting back a pitcher. Instead, based on packages being prepared by organizations with interest, it'll clearly cost one or two prospects considered to be among the Top 100 in baseball, as well as a third, mid-level prospect with significant upside.
Based on projections by Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, Realmuto is the only current catcher in baseball likely to produce more than 10 WAR during the next five seasons, while remaining behind the plate the entire time.
"He's the most prominent name on the trade market, no doubt," I was told by an NL East executive from a team with reported interest.
The same executive also noted that, because it is widely viewed that the Marlins did not get back nearly enough talent when dealing Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich last winter, they need to hit a home run in their return for Realmuto.
"He's their last big chip," the NL East source told me. "He's the most valuable catcher in baseball and they can't afford to mess it up."
Realmuto is likely to earn a combined $15-20 million the next two seasons, after which he'll be a free agent at age 29.
According to market makers, if he were a free agent today signing only a two-year deal, he'd likely get a $60-70 million contract. In other words, he's one helluva bargain when you consider the position he plays and how much he'll be paid compared to what he's expected to produce.
The above trade package points to the Braves, Astros, Phillies, and Nationals as best positioned to complete a deal with the Marlins.
Those four teams all have the ability to include a top 20 overall prospect, as well as a second prospect in the top 100 and a third high-ceiling, unranked prospect.
For instance, the Braves, Nationals, A's and Astros are all able to offer two prospects from the league's top 40, while also having the required third prospect.
The Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets will also have interest, based on reports during the past year, but it's hard to see how they top anything offered by the first four teams.
That said, if two of the Braves, Astros, Phillies and Nationals decide to keep their prospects and, instead, spend free agent dollars to sign Wilson Ramos or Yasmani Grandal, the Mets might move up on the list of potential suitors for Realmuto, though the offered package will still need to hit the above mark given the number of interested teams still in the mix.
In that case -- given the level competition -- to get Realmuto, the Mets will have no choice but to include their top two prospects, 1B Peter Alonso and SS Andres Gimenez. And, because Alonso and Gimenez only rank in the mid-50s on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect List, the Mets would almost certainly need to include RHP Justin Dunn, who checks in at No. 89.
I suppose the Mets could entertain giving up OF Brandon Nimmo, but he starts being eligible for arbitration in 2020 and the Marlins are said to be looking for long-term, controllable assets that have yet to start accruing service time. If that's the case, they'll prefer packages being offered by the Braves, etc., regardless of how you and I view Nimmo's potential.
I realize Mets fans will scoff and deem the above offer too much to give for Realmuto, who is only guaranteed to wear a new uniform for two more seasons. And, though that may be true if trades were conducted in a vacuum, the reality is that as many as six teams with better prospects could also be making offers, which means the Mets need to top all of those proposals. Anything less will simply be rejected, just as they've been rejected at other points in the past.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!