As has become typical with an Alex Anthopoulos off-season, the Braves off-season got off to a hot start and then cooled dramatically. As such, Braves fans have been waiting for a new bit of off-season news to argue about on twitter for quite some time, and, finally, this morning the clock struck midnight! We got a rumor!
Braves circling on free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to league sources. Other teams on the west coast are expressing interest.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 21, 2021
Before we get into the rumor, we first need to understand who Robert Murray is and why this is worth entertaining. Murray emerged as a hotshot reporter when he started breaking baseball news as a young 20 year old with a twitter account. He grew that into a position with The Athletic where he covered the Brewers, but has since returned to national coverage with FanSided. This isn’t Don Johnson telling you the Braves are signing Joc Pederson through his source closely related to Alex Anthopoulos and then deleting his twitter account with under 10 followers later that evening.
This is a legit report from a legit reporter.
(I really just wanted to put that bit in there to take a shot at Don Johnson, the man with sources and a deleted twitter account.)
So how do we get here?
Well, first, you have to remember the facts of the story. Alex Anthopoulos is interested in JT Realmuto. If you’ve been anything remotely interested in the Braves since Alex Anthopoulos became the general manager, you’d know he has long been infatuated with Realmuto. He pursued him for two years when Realmuto was with the Marlins before the Phillies finally landed him in a trade. Hearing that Anthopoulos has interest in Realmuto shouldn’t come as any amount of shock to anyone.
I think it’s interesting that I’ve seen so many people begging for a Braves rumor to chew on and immediately upon getting a rumor from a legitimate source, they try to shoot it down immediately as if nothing is happening. Fact of the matter is, this may end up not happening. Only one team is going to sign JT Realmuto and the Phillies definitely remain the favorites, but the deeper we get into the off-season, the more and more likely it becomes that another team swoops in and gets involved. This has been the Alex Anthopoulos game plan for two off-seasons now and it would be silly to just dismiss this out of not wanting to get your hopes up.
How much do we believe this is happening?
Here’s where you separate this from a) “is this a legitimate rumor?” to b) “is this really happening?”
In all likelihood, no, this isn’t going to happen. It’s more likely that this is Alex doing his due diligence and checking in on a good player that is still a free agent in late January. It should be noted that the day this rumor surfaced was the one year anniversary of the Braves signing Marcell Ozuna. Working in late January while trying to take advantage of a slow moving market is what Alex Anthopoulos does. Does it always turn into a free agent signing? No. But in this case, for a player he has coveted for years, the interest is understandably more than “just trying to raise the price” on other teams wanting Realmuto.
But how does it work?
Here’s the interesting part. Let’s have some fun and say the Braves do find a way to sign JT Realmuto to a contract. How does it work? The Braves already have a good catcher in Travis d’Arnaud, so what gives?
The easiest way, and one that seems to be gaining legs, is that the National League is granted the universal DH and the two would split time between catcher and designated hitter. Since Anthopoulos took over, the Braves have tried to maintain close to an even split of playing time between two catchers so the primary catcher wouldn’t wear down in the Atlanta heat over the summer. Realmuto wouldn’t sign with a team to participate in an even split of playing time, so the DH would allow them the ability to give Realmuto 150+ games with his bat in the lineup, while still being able to catch a little more than half the time.
So what if we don’t get a DH? Then how does it work?
Hey, hell if I know. I’m just having fun here.
But seriously, the options would be to play one of them in LF or trade d’Arnaud as he comes off his best season to try to fill the 3B/LF hole on the roster. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not overly complicated.
Does Realmuto sign with the Braves? (For entertainment purposes only)