MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto wants to join the Miami Marlins’ exodus.
The catcher requested a trade in the wake of the team’s payroll purge, a person familiar with the situation said Monday. The person confirmed Realmuto’s request to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because discussions with the Marlins were private.
The person said Realmuto’s agent told the Marlins trading the three-year veteran would make sense for the rebuilding team because of his high market value.
The Marlins responded that they’ll be the judge of that.
“We used the last couple of weeks continuing to lay the foundation for building a first-class, winning organization,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said in a statement released after Realmuto’s request became public. “Should we feel like we need to make a trade involving any of our under-contract, controllable players, we will be the ones who initiate that conversation and always do what’s best for the organization.”
Miami dealt major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton, All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna and major league stolen base champ Dee Gordon this month. The franchise is reducing payroll and rebooting under a new ownership group that includes Derek Jeter .
Jeter will discuss the franchise’s direction Tuesday at a town hall meeting with season-ticket holders.
Realmuto hit .278 with 17 homers this year and is regarded as one of the best young catchers in the majors. He’s eligible for arbitration for the first time after making $562,500 this year, but won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, which makes the Marlins reluctant to part with him.
Realmuto could bring a windfall in prospects, and the Marlins are anxious to build up a farm system that has been ranked among the worst in the majors.
At last week’s winter meetings, manager Don Mattingly spoke of Realmuto as a player to rebuild around.
“I love J.T.,” Mattingly said. “It’s probably not fair, but I laid a little bit of a Yadier Molina tag on him. When you’re facing the Cardinals and Yadier Molina is behind the plate, you’re not happy about it. We feel J.T. can be that guy. He’s not there yet, but we think this guy will step up leadership-wise and be a guy you can win a championship with.”
While Realmuto may stay in Miami, more cost-cutting trades are expected this offseason, with center fielder Christian Yelich among the candidates to be dealt.