The Marlins have been monitoring the market for catching help with the trade deadline now under two months away, per Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. With the team currently sitting seven games above .500 — currently in possession of an NL Wild Card spot and just 3.5 games back of the division-leading Braves — they’re positioned to head into the 2023 deadline as a potential buyer.

Certainly, that stance could change in the coming weeks, depending on whether the team can sustain its hot start to the season. However, even if the Marlins approached the deadline from a seller’s standpoint, finding some long-term help behind the dish could still be a focus. The catcher position has been an area of need in Miami ever since J.T. Realmuto was traded. The team originally hoped that Jorge Alfaro, acquired in that Realmuto swap, could take the reins are the catcher of the future. That didn’t prove true, and a subsequent trade for defensive standout Jacob Stallings has proven similarly unsuccessful.

Stallings, 33, saw his vaunted defensive ratings plummet in his first year with Miami last season. They’ve rebounded to an extent so far in 2023, but the former Pirates backstop has seen his offensive production bottom out at career-worst levels. Stallings is hitting just .161/.238/.226 this season, and since Miami acquired him in the 2021-22 offseason he’s managed only a .210/.281/.278 slash. Paired with his surprisingly below-average defensive grades, the 2021 Gold Glove winner has played at a sub-replacement level since donning a Marlins jersey.

In light of this season’s struggles, Stallings has begun to cede playing time to 26-year-old Nick Fortes. While Fortes isn’t an offensive force himself, his .231/.280/.328 batting line outpaces what Stallings has been able to muster so far in 2023, and Fortes has drawn superior grades for his pitch blocking and pitch framing. Fortes, in fact, leads all big league catchers in Statcast’s new pitch blocking metric. (Stallings has been above-average as well.) Neither catcher has been able to control the running game at all; Fortes has just an 8% caught-stealing rate on the season, while Stallings is only marginally better at 12%. Stolen base success rate is up in general throughout the league with this year’s new rules, but the Fortes/Stallings tandem has allowed the sixth-most steals in MLB (63) and is tied for the fewest runners caught (seven).