The Houston Astros should flip Kyle Tucker for JT Realmuto

J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
J.T. Realmuto #11 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros should fix the biggest hole in the roster by flipping Kyle Tucker for Marlins catcher JT Realmuto. Let’s take a look at why they should and how it could get done.

The Houston Astros won the first World Series in franchise history in 2017. The last thing the team did was get complacent. In the offseason, they went out and added Gerrit Cole to form one of the best pitching staffs in the entire league.

At the trade deadline, they stayed active and pursued improvement. The Astros traded for Ryan Pressly, Martin Maldonado, and Roberto Osuna. All three of these guys played a key role in the last couple of months of the season and in the playoffs. All of this led to the best regular season in team history with 103 wins.

Unfortunately, the Astros were unable to become the first team to repeat since the Yankees nearly two decades ago as the Red Sox derailed their 2018 World Series hopes in game five of the ALCS. But, that shouldn’t make the team and fans forget the wonderful season the team had.

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However, remembering and acknowledging the 2017 World Series win and the best season in franchise history should not let the team and fans get complacent. There are holes to fill on this roster. Six players are free agents this offseason, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Tony Sipp, Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, and Maldonado. Brian McCann is also probably gone as he has a $15 million club option which should be declined.

The team will have to figure out whether or not to bring those guys back or let them go. If they let them go, the Houston Astros brass will need to figure out replacements. I broke down a while back some thoughts on who the team should keep and shouldn’t keep.

One of the guys I wanted the team to keep was Maldonado. However, after his struggles in the postseason, that needs to be rethought. He had a .105 batting average, and one RBI on a solo homer in the ALDS. He also allowed several passed balls though, he did nail the only guy that tried to steal a base on him.

Bringing Maldonado back wouldn’t be the worst decision but after his showing in the playoffs proved that the team needs to improve at catcher if they want to return to the World Series in 2019. There is one obvious solution but it is an expensive one. That would be trading for JT Realmuto.

The Houston Astros have been in contact with the Miami Marlins before about Realmuto but the price was always too high. The Marlins were, and probably still are, seeking out a top tier prospect. The Astros two, maybe three, guys that fall into that category. They would be Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley, and potentially Yordan Alvarez. The team has deemed these three guys untouchable, and for good reason, but there is one guy they should make available to land Realmuto.

Tucker is that guy. I know what you’re thinking, this is crazy Tucker is the future of this organization and is a complete prospect that can do it all. All of that is true, Tucker is a great prospect who will likely have a long MLB career. However, if Tucker is what it takes to land the best catcher in baseball, the Astros should no longer hesitate.

It’s no secret that Tucker struggled at the MLB level this season. He had a .141/.236/.203 slash line with only four RBIs and zero home runs on 64 plate appearances. He also played lackluster defense and struggled to adapt to Minute Maid Park. However, he isn’t the first highly regarded prospect to struggle and won’t be the last but his value is still high in spite of his struggles this year.

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Tucker could and probably will figure things out at the MLB level but he also potentially couldn’t. The Houston Astros contention window is wide open and will be for a few years and adding Realmuto will bolster their ability to win another World Series more than Tucker could. Tucker also doesn’t have an immediate route to playing time.

This would be a tough loss to swallow, no doubt. However, after falling short this year, the Astros need to do all they can to ensure they contend next year. Adding Realmuto plugs the biggest hole in the lineup and adds a plus bat and a plus glove to the team.

Last year, Realmuto had a .277 batting average, .340 on base percentage, and a .484 slugging percentage. He also hit 21 home runs, drove in 74 runs, and had 30 doubles. He also had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 38% of the stolen base attempts.

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That is infinitely better than what the Houston Astros have fielded at the catcher position in a long, long time. The team would be foolish to let the opportunity to add an elite catcher like Realmuto slip through their fingers. He could help the team return to the World Series in 2019 and win it again.