Could the 2019 catching situation for the Pittsburgh Pirates hinge on what the Miami Marlins do?
Throughout the offseason there have been trade rumors swirling around Pittsburgh Pirates’ catcher Francisco Cervelli. Despite all of the rumors, for now, Cervelli remains a Pirate with the start of Spring Training now just 33 days away.
Teams such as the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies have all been linked to Cervelli this offseason. Some of these teams have gone on to address their catching situation, while others have not. So, a potential trade market for Cervelli still exists.
This market changed some on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Brewers signed Yasmani Grandal to a one-year contract. Not only did this shore up the catching situation of one team on the catching market, it also took the best remaining free agent catcher off the market. With the Grandal signing, the trade market will likely begin to heat up once again.
Another catcher that has had trade rumors swirling around them all offseason long is J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins. And, according to Joe Friario of MLB.com, with Grandal off the market the Marlins are revving up trade talks with teams about Realmuto. “Substantive discussions” is the term Friario used to discuss Realmuto trade talks since Grandal signed.
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The teams that are interested in Realmuto are bound to have interest in Cervelli as well. If/when Realmuto is traded could impact what happens with Cervelli and, thus, the 2019 catching situation for the Pirates.
In 2018 Relamuto owned a 4.4 fWAR, while Cervelli’s was 3.3. They were equal players offensively with Realmuto owning a .353 wOBA and a 126 wRC+, while Cervelli’s numbers were .355 and 125. However, Realmuto played in 20 more games and was slightly better defensive hence the higher WAR.
Additionally, Realmuto is entering his second year of arbitration. Due to this, he is set to get a raise over the $2.9M he made last season, but, his price tag will still be much cheaper than the $11.5M that Cervelli is owed in 2019. Realmuto also comes with three years of team control to Cervelli’s one, and he does not have the concussion history/concerns that Cervelli does.
All of these factors add up to Relamuto being more heavily sought after in trade than Cervelli. However, they also make his price to acquire higher. Both of these factors could impact what happens with Cervelli.
If Realmuto is traded, teams that missed out on him could then turn their attention to Cervelli. It is also a possibility that teams could balk at Miami’s asking price for Realmuto and turn to Cervelli. But, Cervelli will not come cheap either.
The Pirates are looking to win in 2019, and, if they move Cervelli, they will want a package that can help the 2019 team win. Due to this, landing Cervelli will require MLB ready talent while the rebuilding Marlins will be more interested in prospects and younger players. This could be a factor in all of this, too.