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MLB Trade Rumors: Tampa Bay Rays still interested in JT Realmuto as talks heat up

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Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The hottest name on the trade market is still available.

Rumors and speculation continue to surround JT Realmuto, but as of this writing he remains a Miami Marlin. The Tampa Bay Rays are among the teams that have had a continued interest in the Marlins all-star catcher.

JT Realmuto is arguably the best catcher in all of baseball, offering the rare package of above average offensive and defensive abilities. In 2018 with the Marlins, Realmuto played in 125 games (catching 112 of them), and slashed .277/.340/.484 with 21 HR over 531 plate appearances, accruing 4.8 fWAR. To put that in perspective, the next closest catcher in the majors was Yasmani Grandal of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who accrued 3.6 fWAR.

Realmuto is still under contract through the 2020 season, and he’ll make just $5.9M in 2019 after settling with the Marlins earlier this month.

Realmuto trade talks have remained at a simmer all offseason. Recently Joe Frisaro, the Marlins beat writer for MLB.com, reported that interested teams have not been offered a negotiating window with Realmuto for a possible extension, so whoever trades for him will do so with no guarantees after 2020. It’s not clear whether that limitation will affect his market.

Realmuto would represent an upgrade for the Rays — or really for any team that lands him. But if Tampa Bay fails to make this trade, the catching situation will be far from dire. Mike Zunino was acquired from Seattle and Michael Perez, who came to the Rays via midseason trade, will be set to return from his season-ending hamstring injury, giving the Rays a very respectable catching tandem.