Yankees: Joel Sherman mentions possible J.T. Realmuto trade

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 4: J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on September 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 4: J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on September 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Gary Sanchez’s poor performance this season, highlighted by injury, has led many to speculate whether the Yankees could acquire a catcher this offseason — someone like J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins.

At 89-54, the Yankees having an excellent season. Unfortunately, at 98-46, the division rival Red Sox are having a great one. With dreams of winning the AL East all but shattered at this point in the season, the Yanks must do all they can to build upon the 2.5 game lead they currently hold over the A’s for the first Wild Card spot.

Flying cross-country to Oakland for a one-game showdown with no clear-cut ace to start the contest and the possibility that Aaron Judge still is unfit to play is not something the Yanks want to encounter.

Losing 3-2 to the Mariners on Sunday night only made that belief that much stronger.

However, with three weeks to go in the regular season, speculation regarding the 2019 Yankees has already begun. Recently, Joel Sherman of the New York Post talked about the futures of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino and Miguel Andujar

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With Bird having lost his starting first base job (at least for the rest of this season) to Luke Voit; Severino struggling to the point of potentially not getting to nod in the Wild Card Game, and Andujar likely winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award on his offensive prowess alone, questions remain moving forward.

But the one part of Sherman’s piece that really stuck out to me was when he floated the possibility of the Yankees potentially acquiring a two-way catcher in his prime, someone like J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins.

"Would the Yankees invest even more prospect capital to try to land Stanton’s former Marlins teammate, J.T. Realmuto, or to find a catcher? Or can Sanchez, 26 in September, recapture his offense and make upgrades on his defense?Sanchez also could be given a first baseman’s mitt. So could Miguel Andujar, who has been challenged defensively at third… On Baseball Prospectus, Sanchez is considered among the game’s better framers of pitches. Yankees pitchers had a lower ERA when Sanchez caught this season (3.48) than Romine (4.00) in a similar number of innings."

There’s no denying Sanchez has all the tools to be a great hitter and a solid catcher. However, as a backstop that is valued higher than others because of his offensive ability, concern arises when that bat is unable to get to the plate because of injury.

While it may feel like Sanchez has been around forever, he’s actually only accumulated 1064 plate appearances in parts of four seasons (250 games). Even in last year’s breakout campaign, he missed 40 games.

Of course, his .278/.345/.541 slash with 33 homers and 90 RBIs more than made up for the first month he spent on the DL. But was it enough to ignore 13 errors and a league-leading 16 passed balls? In the eyes of many, yes — especially since he threw out 38 percent of would-be base stealers.

But this most recent season will mostly go down as a lost one: .181/.279/.400 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 308 plate appearances. While the 14 long balls prove Sanchez can hit them out with the best of ’em, the 13 past balls and negative 12 total zone fielding, give pause.

Perhaps to lessen the strain on Sanchez’s lower half, he should be moved out from behind the plate. As I suggested on a recent episode of Bronx Bombers Podcast, Sanchez has a spectacular arm and quick enough feet to play first base.

If he were to spend all winter learning the nuances of the position, why not begin the transition — one that would potentially keep his stick in the lineup more than the 73 games we’ve gotten this year.

To do that, the Yanks could again entrust Austin Romine, who is having a backup catcher’s dream season: 73 games played, a .251 BA with 10 homers and 39 RBIs in 227 at-bats. On the defensive side, Romine has thrown out 29 percent of base stealers while allowing only four passed balls for a total zone fielding mark of six.

Since even money says Romine’s production levels out next season, trading for Realmuto, who made his first All-Star team this season would be a wise decision.

In each of his five big league seasons, the 27-year-old Realmuto’s stats have improved. Bar-none, 2018 has been his best: .287/.349/.507 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Behind the dish, Realmuto is known to call a wonderful game, while throwing out 36 percent of base runners. Despite his seven passed balls and six errors, Realmuto still manages a total zone fielding mark of four.

Realmuto missed the start of the season because of a back bruise but has still suited up for 110 games.

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Trading for Realmuto’s services wouldn’t come cheap, but if it means moving El Gary to a position that keeps his bat in the lineup, and shifting Romine back to being the world’s most dependable backup catcher — adding a genuine All-Star like Realmuto is a move the Yankees should explore.