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J.T. Realmuto – Orange County Register

(This is the first in a series of quick profiles on players who fit for the Angels to add over the winter. This is purely “informed speculation,” based on what we know about the Angels’ roster needs along with General Manager Billy Eppler’s preferences and history. We’ll have a new one every weekday, until the GM Meetings, which are the unofficial start of the hot stove season.)

J.T. REALMUTO, catcher, Miami Marlins

The basics: Realmuto is the best all-around catcher in baseball. Next year will be his age 28 season. He’s a right-handed hitter.

2018 season: He hit .277 with 21 home runs and an .825 OPS, both career highs.

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible for two more years before free agency, set to make around $5 million to $6 million in 2019.

Why he makes sense: Although José Briceño and Francisco Arcia did well in short stints last season, it’s unlikely the Angels view either as a No. 1 catcher. When Eppler was describing how he believes the Angels have internal options for most of their everyday spots, he conceded that catcher is a position at which they need to be “open-minded.” Realmuto can also play first base, so he could help share that spot with Albert Pujols, so the Angels could keep his bat in the lineup even when he’s not catching.

The prospect cost for Realmuto would be steep, but it might still make sense. In November 2015, when the Angels were staring at a potential void at shortstop, Erick Aybar was coming into his final year and the Angels had no heir apparent. In that case, they simply paid the high prospect price for Andrelton Simmons. Eppler reasoned that shortstops of that caliber just don’t become available often, and it was worth the cost. You could say the same about Realmuto.

It’s safe to guess that dealing for Realmuto would require two of the Angels’ top 10 prospects, and maybe even a third lesser prospect. There is probably room for a deal that wouldn’t include top prospect Jo Adell, though. If the Angels did get Realmuto, they probably would have depleted their prospect capital to the point that they couldn’t make any other major trades this winter.

Why he doesn’t: Even for only two years, it’s possible the prospect cost for Realmuto would be exorbitant. There are other teams looking for catchers, and the market is thin. The top free agents are Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. The Marlins also might choose to build around him, signing him to an extension.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto is a player the Angels could consider pursuing in the offseason, but the asking price is sure to be steep. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

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