Age: March 18, 1991 (27)
Traditional Stats: .277/.340/.484, 30 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS
Advanced Stats: 4.3 bWAR, 4.8 bWAR, 131 OPS+, 126 wRC+
Defensive Stats: -15.2 RAA, 4.2 FRAA
Free Agent: 2021
Realmuto is definitively the best hitting catcher in all of baseball. Last year, he led all MLB catchers in wRC+, and over the past three years he ranks fifth. Of the four ahead of him, he’s been the most durable and most consistent hitter.
While he is certainly no Mike Piazza and maybe not even an in his prime Buster Posey, Realmuto is a middle of the order hitter. What he does is all the more valuable when you consider last year MLB catchers averaged to hit .232/.304/.372 (84 wRC+). Overall, he’s a clear difference maker at the plate.
However, his impact behind the plate is still very much up for debate. StatCorner rates Realmuto as one of the worst pitch framers in the Major Leagues. Over the past four years, Realmuto has consistently been in the bottom six among all catchers in pitch framing. Put another way, Realmuto is among the worst, if not the worst, pitch framer in all of baseball.
Before classifying him as such, it is important to consider Baseball Prospectus disagrees with StatCorner’s analysis. In fact, Baseball Prospectus rates Realmuto as just pedestrian, which may not seem as much, but it is a significant improvement over being the worst in the game.
Really, when you break it down, Realmuto is a player who feels like he should be better behind the plate, but he isn’t. Even with his athleticism, he does yield a larger number of passed balls and wild pitches. The counter to that is he does throw out base stealers at a better clip than most catchers.
With Realmuto, you have a terrific hitting catcher who still has two years of control. What you cannot be quite sure of is how well he is going to perform behind the plate. Regardless of his work behind the plate, with his durability and bat, it is clear he would be an upgrade for almost any MLB team.
Why the Mets Should Obtain Him
With Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, the Mets have two catchers who have never quite lived up to their billing offensively, and worse yet, they have had more than their fair share of injuries. Realmuto can and should provide stability by giving the Mets a catcher they can rely upon in the lineup. More than that, Realmuto can prove to be that middle of the order right-handed hitter this Mets team needs to balance out the lineup.
While this should not be a reason to make a deal, it’s hard to ignore history. The past two times the Mets obtained a catcher from the Marlins, namely Piazza and Paul Lo Duca, the Mets would have at least one 95+ win season and an appearance in the NLCS. Given the talent already on the Mets roster, you could certainly dream of Realmuto having a similar impact.
Why the Mets Should Not Obtain Him
The Marlins are looking for one of Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, or Michael Conforto in addition to other prospects. Of that group, it would seem Nimmo is the most likely player to get traded, which is just a flat out bad decision. Last year, Nimmo was second in the National League in wRC+ and OBP. He had a higher WAR than Realmuto, and he is under team control for longer than Realmuto.
Put simply, Nimmo is a better baseball player than Realmuto, and you do not become a better baseball team by trading away better players for worse ones.
Moreover, it is much easier to upgrade at catcher on the free agent market than outfield. The Mets can and should sign one of Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos this offseason. Arguably, both are better than Realmuto. More than that, a team with Nimmo and Grandal is much better than one with Realmuto and A.J. Pollock, who is an injury prone player who continues to decline defensively.
The Mets should pass on Realmuto because acquiring him is going to decimate their farm system or part with one of Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Michael Conforto. In return, they get two years of an All-Star catcher while they stack the Marlins system which will make winning the National League East all the more difficult in the future.
Overall, if you have the money to go out and sign a Pollock, you have the money to sign a Grandal. A team with Nimmo and Grandal is better than one with Realmuto and Pollock. It is also one with more team control of better players who are more apt to stay on the field.