Reese Kaplan -- An Alternative to a Realmuto Trade


Yes, my friends, this article is yet another examination of whether or not it makes sense to make a desperation trade for one J.T. Realmuto.  Everyone in baseball is well aware of the state of Mets’ catching and no one is going to offer up alternatives for less than a king’s ransom.  The question you have to ask yourself is if it makes sense to go for broke on someone like Realmuto?
Image result for jt realmuto
This season’s start on the DL notwithstanding, Realmuto has been durable – something  that should appeal to anyone who’s watched Travis d’Arnaud secure beachfront property next to David Wright on the DL.  In 2015 he played in 126 games.  The next year it rose to 137.  Last year it was 141 which is pretty much unheard of for a catcher.

Offensively, while he’s no Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez, the fact is he’s pretty good.
  In an average season he’s on tap to provide .282/15/67.  Now before you get too caught up in the numbers, remember that Travis d’Arnaud produced 16/57 in more than 184 fewer ABs last season. 

However, the other differentiating factor for Realmuto is his defense.  He’s 5% better than league average for gunning down runners.  d’Arnaud is 10% worse.  That’s a 15% improvement right there.

Dollar-wise he’s currently earning $2.9 million in 2018, arbitration eligible next year and a free agent in 2021.  So you’re looking at guaranteed availability for 2.75 seasons.  Then you’d have to decide if at then age 31 he’d be a good investment. 

Obviously comparisons to d’Arnaud are out the window given his familiar place back on the DL.  In fact, he’s like worn his Mets uniform for the last time since he’s already earning $3.475 million and not providing anything.  He looks to be a non-tender candidate for next season unless he’s willing to take a substantial pay cut.  Even then, a catcher who in his best days couldn’t throw and now coming back from Tommy John Surgery, well, that simply doesn’t seem like a wise investment.

So that brings us to Kevin Plawecki who finally seemed to be putting it together with the bat last summer in Las Vegas (and later in Queens), then again this spring in Port St. Lucie.  While he’s not going to provide you with power, he can likely contribute to the tune of around .260 and play a respectable defensive role handling the pitchers.  For reference, he had a bit of a defensive aberration last year, but usually puts up just a tick under league average in throwing out would-be base stealers.

Using the Yoenis Cespedes trade as a guideline, the Mets gave up a highly touted pitching prospect from AA in Michael Fulmer and a less heralded soft tosser in Luis Cessa.  To do the equivalent right now you would probably be looking at Corey Oswalt and any number of other options such as P.J. Conlon, Chris Flexen or even Marco Molina (who has not yet made the full return to what he was prior to surgery). 

Now wait a minute, you’re thinking, J.T. Realmuto is a “nice” player but he’s not Yoenis Cespedes. 

You’re absolutely right.  The sight of Realmuto in the batter’s box is not going to raise pitchers’ blood pressure the way “La Potencia” does.  However, you’re paying up in terms of positional rarity and your own desperate negotiating position.  Also, you’re paying for the long term and not simply for a 2 month rental (which is what Cespedes was at the time).

So there you have the question before you – suppose the Marlins said it would take Oswalt and Molina for 2.75 years of J.T. Realmuto.  I’d do that in a heartbeat.  However, since it’s not merely a rental and even projecting arbitration raises, you’re getting a player worth more than he will cost for through the end of the 2020 season, it’s going to take more. 

How much more?  Well, if you take a catcher from the Marlins you probably should think about one going back to them.  Right now their backup to Realmuto is journeyman Bryan Holaday and young Tomas Telis.  Kevin Plawecki is probably a bit of an upgrade and he’s still earning under $1 million.  You might have to offer up Tomas Nido as an alternative.  For that matter, you might have to dangle Patrick Mazeika who has a .306 career minor league batting average.  Then the Marlins would be the ones treading water, perhaps force feeding Mazeika to the majors as soon as next year.  Given the penurious state of the Marlins, that may not be a problem for them. 

OK, so now the package is Oswalt, Molina and Mazeika.  I’m still inclined to do the deal.  In fact, if they insist on a 4th player, I would make it Plawecki.  That would leave the Mets with Realmuto starting and your choice of Jose Lobaton or Nido as your backup. 

What have you sacrificed?  You gave up a catcher in Plawecki who wouldn’t play once Realmuto arrived.  You gave up a hitter in Mazeika who happens to wear catcher’s gear but who would then be blocked by Realmuto.  You gave up a solid pitching choice in Oswalt.  That one hurts.  You gave up a lottery ticket in Molina.  So essentially you gave up Oswalt for Realmuto, quality for quality, and filled it in with some people who either would no longer have a role and one whose future is uncertain since surgery. 

Of course, there’s another way to go.  You live with Kevin Plawecki at catcher for the remainder of the season and instead target a catcher who is currently blocked in another organization.  The one that comes to mind is a youngster by the name of Keibert Ruiz in the Dodgers organization.  The Dodgers are currently set with Yasmani Grandal behind the plate, though he is a free agent after this season.  After waiting quite awhile for him to develop his bat, Grandal returned dividends in 2016 with 27 HRs and 72 RBIs.  He followed that up last year with 22 and 58.  This year he’s already at 3/16 to go along with a .328 batting average.  He’s 29 this year and still probably worthy of a 3-4 year contract extension.  Behind Grandal they have the highly regarded Austin Barnes.  It’s possible, therefore that young Mr. Ruiz might be available in trade.

All the switch hitting Venezuelan Ruiz has done in his minor league career is hit to the tune of .327.  Now he has little power – understand that right up front – but catchers who are contact hitters who still manage to rack up an OPS north of .800 with never having clubbed more than 8 HRs in a season are still mighty valuable.  Defensively, Fangraphs called Ruiz’ catching mechanics “near perfect” and his arm is considered extraordinarily accurate.  Last year he was the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year.  Might a swap of Corey Oswalt make more sense for a cost controllable 19 year old already in AA?  He’s currently the 15th ranked prospect in the Dodger organization, so it’s not as if we’d be asking for their Pete Alonso.

Right now the Mets theoretically have sufficient power hitting.  They get homers from pretty much every position on the diamond but SS and C.  Consequently they could likely live with Plawecki if he could deliver a .260 AVG or better as he did when he returned last year. 

So which way would you go?  Or do you have a better idea in mind?


Thomas Brennan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Brennan said...

Realmuto (my Tablet re-spelled his name as "Really go") is my choice. Really, that is the way to go. We can win in 2018 with him. And 2019.

Jeter might Really want Mazeika. After a frigid start in frigid weather, he is 13 for 30 with 3 homers and eight RBIs in his last 7 games. He has nailed 8 of 19 stealers this year, too.

.308/.408/.446 career? Sweet. He could be a major league starting catcher by mid-2019, I would think. For the Marlins...or the Mets.

I like him better than offensively-challenged Nido.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -


You know I have always been a big fan of Grandal. I would love him to be a Met in 2019, but there is no guarantee that he would sign with us, so I can't nank on that.

I have to get through this season first.

Yes, I would make the Marlins a 3 player offer.

1. A great young Latin pitching prospect, Nabil Crismatt

2. a premier A+ level reliever, Ryder Ryan

3. And either Gavin Cecchini, Luis Guillorme, or Dominic Smith... pick one

One last thing...

I could easily live with Nido and Lobaton if the rest of this team started hitting at the levels they have produced in the past.

TexasGusCC said...

Reese, I can’t see either the Marlins or Dodgers complying. The guys you offer are decent prospects, except for Molina, who needs to bounce back, but even as prospects they aren’t too sexy. The Dodgers have the best system in baseball, so don’t look at their prospect ranking. Their 15th could be another team’s top 2 (ahem, like a team in Flushing).

And before you use the name Gimenez, I wouldn’t want a pop-hitting middle infielder no matter how young and advanced he is. The Mets have no offense to offer in their system outside of Alonso, don’t expect anything good coming to Queens.

And Mazeika, Plawecki, and Nido together, aren’t worth much. Any GM would say, ‘if you don’t want them, why should I’?

Michael S. said...

Ah, Grandal. I remember hoping the Mets picked him out of Miami in the 2010 Draft. Went Harvey instead and it looked like a master stroke for a bit. Funny how things work out.

As far as a Realmuto deal, if the Mets can get him for Crismatt, Ryan, and Guillorme they should take it and run. It’s a very reasonable price to solidify the position and lengthen the lineup.

Hobie said...

LOL. Yes, I too was banking on drafting Grandal in 2010, but that was assuming the D'backs would grab Chris Sale. When Ariz picked ...Loux?..I was extactic at the shot at Sale, and irate at the Harvey pick. Ate crow for a while I suppose.

Thomas Brennan said...

That ship has Saled

Mack's Mets © 2012