Realmuto 'honored' to make first All-Star appearance
Manny Machado wasn’t the only All-Star to get the “potential trade” questions repeatedly on Monday at Nationals Park.
Miami Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto, sat tucked away in the second-to-last spot at the end of a long row of stations set up for members of the media to interview the National League All-Stars on Workout Day.
And he didn’t escape the questions about his baseball future.
“I honestly try not to pay much attention to it,” Realmuto said. “I’m sure rumors will float whether they’re true or not. I just have to put that to the side and not pay too much attention to it.”
Realmuto, 27, enters his first All-Star Game having a career year in several offensive and defensive categories in his fourth full season in the majors.
And he’s done so despite talk of him leaving the Marlins that surfaced even before the season began when the club traded several of their top players in the offseason which left Realmuto as one of the few experienced players in their clubhouse.
Realmuto was rumored to still be garnering interest from contenders such as the World Series champion Houston Astros and the All-Star host Washington Nationals.
The Marlins have made it clear they aren’t shopping Realmuto, but while they’d listen to offers, such a move would come at a very high price likely involving a team’s top prospect.
“For me honestly, it’s pretty easy to stay focused on the task at hand,” Realmuto said. “You have a job to do every single day no matter what the trade rumors are or what’s going on outside of the field. Every night you have to show up and play and you have to take a certain sense of pride in how you’re doing that.”
The possibility remains the Marlins will elect to offer Realmuto, who would not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, a long-term contract to become a centerpiece in their plans for the future.
“If they approached me, I wouldn’t be opposed to having the conversation, but right now my focus is on the season and the rest of the year and the second half and we’ll discuss that stuff when it comes,” Realmuto said. “The fact that they would think of me that way, to build around me, is an honor.”
Realmuto, the Marlins’ first All-Star catcher since Paul Lo Duca (2005) and third all-time, hit .310 with a.536 slugging percentage and a .902 OPS leading all NL catchers and ranked second in home runs (12) and RBI (45).
The Marlins entered the All-Star break with a 41-57 record, which is on pace to win 68 games exceeding the expectations of many that felt the club would lose 100 or more games after they dealt stars such as Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in the offseason.
“The offseason was tough just from a personal standpoint being good friends with all those guys,” Realmuto said. “You never want to see your teammates go. But once spring training comes, you’re showing up to work.
“No matter what the team is doing…and ours has been doing well lately…you still have to take care of your own job as well. Every night I show up to help my team win and that’s why it’s not that hard to put all that [trade talk] to the side.”
Realmuto’s agent said before the season that he’d like to be traded to a contender instead of remaining as the focal point of the Marlins’ future.
Realmuto entered spring training stating publicly that he was keeping his focus on the season and making the young team around him better.
While Realmuto has excelled, the Marlins’ plan has begun to see results on the field while making noticeable strides in their minor-league system.
Realmuto said Monday he doesn’t feel like he’s part of a “overachieving team” and said he felt indifferent to the trade speculation, remaining open to being part of potential future success in Miami.
“I feel like we’re playing good baseball and there’s still better baseball that we can play,” Realmuto said. “I just want to build off the first half and continue to get better and help the team any way I can.”