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Giants have checked in on Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto

There’s a very simple explanation behind this report.

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Tonight, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported that the Giants were one of the teams to have checked in on the MarlinsJ.T. Realmuto.

Realmuto was the 25th-most valuable hitter in Major League Baseball in 2018, per FanGraph’s fWAR, anyway (4.8). As a result, Miami wants to trade him before he gets expensive. They have no intention to signing him to an extension; and, so, for the second consecutive offseason, the Marlins will be selling off one of their best players. But why have the Giants shown interest? They have Buster Posey, who is already great.

There are a few possibilities:

  • Reports of his improving health following his season-ending hip surgery have been greatly exaggerated. He was always going to be iffy for the start of Opening Day, but maybe there have been some setbacks.
  • Buster Posey’s recovery is on schedule and even if he comes back fine, the Giants will be more inclined to prolong his health by playing him behind the plate less. If Farhan Zaidi’s belief that “[t]he defensive standard to play left field is very low” is accurate, then maybe the internal thinking is that the team can solve the hole in left field by actually moving Brandon Belt out there in 2019 and beyond. Or...
  • Maybe this is just an agent’s “trial balloon”, much like Jon Morosi’s report that the Giants are willing to engage in trade talks concerning Madison Bumgarner. Jeff Berry of CAA is also the agent for Buster Posey. Heyman’s original report on the Marlins wanting to trade Realmuto cites that Berry is seeking the same contract Buster Posey got for his client Realmuto.

Posey signed a 9-year, $167.4 million dollar deal before the beginning of the 2013 season, his age 26 season. Realmuto will turn 28 on March 18th. Even though Posey missed the majority of the 2011 season, if you compare their first four seasons, he still comes out way ahead of J.T. — 144 OPS+ to 112. Posey also hit 61 home runs to Realmuto’s 59, and Posey’s years came at both AT&T Park and in a post juicing era where home runs were a little more difficult to hit than they are today. So... a similar deal, even in today’s market, feels unwarranted.

Of course, that’s not going to stop an agent from trying to get arguably the best offensive catcher on the market the best deal possible. To that end, bringing the Giants into the mix, even if they’ve only been broadly engaged — they could’ve just checked in to see what the price was for curiosity’s sake (and, of course, to gauge a possible trade market for one of their own players...) — makes a lot of sense and draws on his direct experience on the subject. Does Berry care if two of his clients wind up on the same team? Nope.

Heyman seems well-connected to the Miami organization, but he also has plenty of ties to agents (he’s usually one of the first reporters to have news on contract tenders during the non-tender deadline), and it can’t be a coincidence that J.T. Realmuto has the same agent as Buster Posey. The biggest question raised by all of this is not “What are the Giants plans for Buster Posey?” it’s “What’s going to happen with Nick Hundley?”