Marlins rebuilding plan requires JT Realmuto

As Marlins fans enjoy seeing their lone All-Star participating in the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, the unwelcoming trade rumors cloud casted over JT Realmuto during Monday’s media day function.

Realmuto’s agent made it clear at the beginning of the season that his client would prefer to be dealt to a contender like Christian Yelich (Brewers), Dee Gordon (Mariners), Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) and Marcel Ozuna (Cardinals) were during the offseason. The Marlins made it clear that it is not in their plans to trade him but they are listening to offers, knowing that it would take a lot to pry him off their grasps.

Realmuto made it clear during the media availability that he is committed to his team but not opposed to the rumors or the trade actually happening so long it’s to a contender.

“For me honestly, it’s pretty easy to stay focused on the task at hand,” Realmuto said. “You have a job to do every single day no matter what the trade rumors are or what’s going on outside of the field. Every night you have to show up and play and you have to take a certain sense of pride in how you’re doing that.

“If they approached me, I wouldn’t be opposed to having the conversation, but right now my focus is on the season and the rest of the year and the second half and we’ll discuss that stuff when it comes. The fact that they would think of me that way, to build around me, is an honor.”

The young catcher earned his first All-Star appearance this season after hitting .310 with a.536 slugging percentage and a .902 OPS leading all NL catchers and ranked second in home runs (12) and RBI (45). Those stats are similar to his first full season in 2016, the last time the Marlins were in playoff contention.

This is what Marlins manager Don Mattingly said about him back then.

“He’s quiet but there’s a toughness to J.T. that is really special to me,” he said. “He may be quiet, but you get the feeling that he’s not afraid of anything and if it came down to it, you’d probably want JT on your side if you got into any kind of scuffle or anything else. If it got tough, you got a feeling that you got J.T. on your side.”

Two seasons later, Realmuto seems to have taken over as the front man of Derek Jeter’s rebuilding project.

“We didn’t anointed him the leader,” Mattingly said on Sunday before the All-Star Break, “he is just a leader and that’s who he is. And he’s a leader because he prepares, plays hard, he’s a great teammate. That’s what makes guys leaders. You don’t say ‘that guy’s our leader’ and say now go be a leader. Those guys are there. That’s who they are and that’s why those are the guys who have influence on your club. That’s natural and it’s usually not taught. It’s usually their play. It’s usually the way they prepare, the way they work, personality during the course of the game, the guys that you know are tough. They don’t make mistakes out here. They’re always on point. So those guys end up being your leaders.”

It is rare for a team to come across a franchise catcher. The Marlins only did it once with Charles Johnson and that was in the very beginning. Realmuto is under team control until 2021, which will be his age 30th season. While the Marlins are 16 games under .500, their play during the last month and a half, which was around .500, has shown promise and hope that something will emerge in the near future.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on the team who are great leaders,” Realmuto said. “We all enjoy doing it together, molding those young guys and helping them to become better big leaguers and better professionals.”

For the Marlins’ growth to continue in a meaningful pace, Realmuto must remain a Marlin. Not only that, if the Jeter group is actually going to be different from the previous ownership and actually keep the players they build up, Realmuto would have a long term deal to sign.

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About: Tony Capobianco

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Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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