J.T. Realmuto may get his wish after all. According to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio, the Astros have engaged in trade talks for the Marlins catcher and are currently weighing an offer that involves top prospect Kyle Tucker. Mish estimates a 50% probability that the deal is pushed through before Opening Day.
Realmuto reportedly asked for a trade back in December, when the Marlins were jettisoning franchise players like Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna as part of a full-scale rebuild. There was no feasible way for the 26-year-old catcher to force his team’s hand, however, and he showed up to Marlins FanFest on Saturday “ready to play the season, whether it is in Miami or somewhere else.” No matter where he ends up in 2018, his future looks bright: he ranked fifth-best among all major league catchers on defense (per FanGraphs) and slashed .278/.332/.451 with 17 home runs and 5.2 fWAR in 579 PA for the Marlins.
If the trade goes through, the Marlins stand to receive the no. 17 overall prospect (and no. 5 outfield prospect) in the league. Outfielder Kyle Tucker, 21, has yet to make the jump to Triple-A, let alone the majors, but is considered a top talent with above-average speed and a decent arm for the outfield. He batted a respectable .265/.325/.512 with 16 home runs and eight stolen bases in 317 PA during his first run in Double-A Corpus Christi in 2017.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.