According to multiple Major League Baseball sources, the Padres have legitimate interest in catcher J.T. Realmuto. It has been unclear if the Padres would intend to flip Realmuto if such a trade materialized elsewhere — as the Padres have viable options currently at catcher in top prospect Francisco Mejia and Austin Hedges.
The Friars have been trying to address third base in various 3-team trade scenarios all off season. They like Realmuto, but given their window to compete, him being under control for two more years, it begs the question of a potential swap with other teams they’ve failed to complete deals with thus far.
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On the other hand, Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball right now, and the thinking could be just as simple: continue to get more competitive and make the 25-man roster more attractive to other free agents (Machado, Harper, etc.?), while having the foresight to understand they could always use him as value on the current roster immediately, while also potentially extending him down the road.
In addition, leveraging Realmuto in an aging catching market during the next two free agent classes as a huge trade-chip to replenish other areas of need once again.
Realmuto slugged a triple slash 277/.340/.484, 30 2B’s, 3 3B’s and 21 HR’s with a robust .825 OPS. Moreover, much like former teammate Christian yelich — who found considerable improvement away from Miami’s hitters graveyard, could also benefit from more friendlier confines. Petco Park used to be a pitchers haven, and while it still plays closer to Major League Baseball park neutrality, it is a much better park to hit in than Miami is.
At home last year Realmuto hit .269, with 5 more HR’s on the road than at home, all 3 of his triples, and .283. The year before he hit a staggering 99 points higher on the road than at home, and 12 HR’s away, versus only 5 at home. The Marlins park ranked the 2nd worst according to Park Factors (29th) to hit homeruns in, only trailing the AT&T Park in San Francisco. While Petco ranked closer to middle-of-the-road in HR’s and runs scored, while Miami was dead last. Petco Park is no longer the hitters graveyard Barry Bonds once called “Baseball Proof”.
The Padres interest in the star catcher is real for the right price, and my belief is that their connection to Realmuto coincides with their efforts to land one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Either way, it could show the aforementioned coveted super stars the Padres are serious about making a playoff push sooner than later. Whether the Padres intention would be to help lure the free agents to Petco, or simply to pair him with those (and other substantial moves) in attempt at speeding up their window without mortgaging the future.
The Padres could use current MLB outfield value (Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, Manny Margot, Franchy Cordero) to pair with prospects not named Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, (among other notable prospects). The Padres will not move to facilitate a trade in the case of a potential landing of super star Bryce Harper, for example. As those other outfield assets would otherwise not be moved and now be valuable trade assets.