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Braves discussed J.T. Realmuto trade before deadline, expected to pursue star catcher this winter

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Expect to hear Realmuto’s name a bunch in the coming weeks.

Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Braves discussed a trade for J.T. Realmuto in July, and there were two prominent prospects involved in talks with Miami: Mike Soroka and Austin Riley.

Mark Bowman of reported Monday the two clubs spoke about Realmuto prior to the trade deadline but were unable to work out a deal. Here’s more from Bowman:

“To get two years of Realmuto at a cost of approximately $15 million, the Braves would likely have to part ways with at least two of their top 10 prospects. Right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka and third baseman Austin Riley were part of the discussions the Braves had with the Marlins in July. But given Atlanta’s impressive prospect depth, it certainly could be worth paying a steep price for a catcher, who would upgrade the defense and provide the lineup some much-needed right-handed power potential.

The landscape is different than the one the Braves encountered last year, when the Marlins were insistent Ronald Acuna Jr. be included in any deal for Christian Yelich. When the Braves extended Tyler Flowersthrough next season, the immediate assumption was he’d likely fill a more traditional backup role and Suzuki would likely play elsewhere in 2019. The Braves haven’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing Suzuki. But it seems unlikely they’ll opt to triple down by using these same over-30 veterans to form a catching duo for a third straight season.”

I would imagine the uncertainty of Soroka’s shoulder could’ve been a sticking point in the discussions. As Bowman mentions, including Riley and Soroka in a deal would be a steep price to pay, although it’s a fair one considering Realmuto’s skillset and production.

Realmuto, who will be 28 on Opening Day, is in a league of his own behind the plate. He’s coming off a year in which he hit .277/.340/.484 with a 126 wRC+, 21 homers and 74 RBI. His FanGraphs WAR of 4.8 was well ahead of everyone else; Yasmani Grandal was second at 3.6, and Francisco Cervelli was the only other catcher above 3.0. Realmuto leads all catchers in WAR by a considerable margin over the last three years, averaging 4.1 WAR per season. He’s a difference-maker at a position with very fewer difference makers.

The Braves have a plethora of talent in the minor leagues and will likely be very active on the trade market. As we’ve said before, this is a critical offseason for Alex Anthopoulos as the club looks to take the next step in the National League.