Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Realmuto market could be as hot as Machado's and Harper's

Taking our weekly trip around MLB as the stove heats up …

Arizona Diamondbacks

— Not to cast aspersions on anyone, and perhaps local writers have reason to have greater appreciation for guys they cover every day. Yoshihisa Hirano received a first-place vote from an Arizona writer (who writes for Sankei Sports), Walker Buehler’s only first and second place votes came from L.A., Jack Flaherty’s two votes came from St. Louis, two of Brian Anderson’s four first-place votes came from Miami and a Tampa writer voted for two Rays on his Rookie of the Year ballot. Luis Severino even received one fifth place Cy Young vote from a New York voter. Almost all the votes are somewhat justifiable (except for Hirano getting a vote but not Juan Soto) it just looks like more than coincidental. On the plus side, the three votes Mike Shildt received for Manager of the Year were not from St. Louis … 

— The D-Backs are looking like they might have a flexible roster, and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic suggests Ketel Marte, an infielder, could be a candidate to replace free agent A.J. Pollock in center … 

— Pollock and star pitcher Patrick Corbin are assumed to be gone (though Pollock is an interesting one to keep an eye on if he doesn’t get what he seeks) … 

— Jazz Chisholm, a 20-year-old shortstop, is impressing folks in the Arizona Fall League.

 

Atlanta Braves

— Some see ex-Braves closer Craig Kimbrel as a nice fit back in Atlanta … 

— You know who else might be? Old friend Brian McCann. They are looking for half a catching tandem, and the Georgia native and former Brave would make a nice platoon with Tyler Flowers, who signed back in season … 

— Ronald Acuna Jr. deserved the Rookie of the Year award, though it was a bit surprising he won in such a rout. The stats of Acuna and the Nats’ Juan Soto were nearly identical, but Acuna probably got the nod on most ballots for one of two reasons: 1) Acuna’s a little more well-rounded (though both are supremely talented), and 2) Acuna’s Braves made the playoffs, and Acuna’s hot streak was one of the reasons … 

— The Braves hired analytics guru Mike Fast, who is one of a few who left the Astros organization. The Braves are beefing up their numbers game, having previously added Alex Tamin from the Dodgers organization … 

— Michael Brantley and Wilson Ramos are on the Braves’ wish list, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com … 

— Atlanta denied it made an offer for Marlins catcher J.T. Reamuto, but that pursuit is likely moot anyway because the Marlins prefer not to trade him within the division …

— The Braves have been speculated as a landing spot for ex-Mets exec J.P. Ricciardi, but the Braves are said not to have any senior level openings.

 

Baltimore Orioles

— Mike Elias emerged from a very quiet search to be the Orioles’ top choice for GM. The northern Virginia native started as a scout with the Cardinals but moved to the Astros under Jeff Luhnow. The Yale grad is considered an analytics expert. His ascension was first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Orioles may hire a two-tier executive structure, Dan Connolly, Orioles expert, writes … 

— Joe Espada, Astros bench coach, could be a managerial candidate. However, word is the Orioles already have done work on a managerial list, even before officially naming Elias … 

— As always, the most interesting candidate would be the legendary Cal Ripken Jr. It isn’t known how interested he is, but he did interview for the Nats managing job when they hired Matt Williams. One confidant thought it would be unlikely to lure either of the Ripkens. Younger brother Billy is an analyst for MLB Network … 

— Who says the Orioles didn’t do anything right this year? They have done a terrific job keeping their search quiet … 

— Possible No. 1 pick Bobby Witt Jr., a shortstop and the son of Bobby Witt (who was picked No. 3 overall out of the University of Oklahoma), is “another Robin Yount,” according to one scout.

RELATED: Predicting the deals for 131 of free agency's potential movers and shakers

Boston Red Sox

— Nathan Eovaldi is someone they’d like to bring back … 

— They retain interest in star closer Craig Kimbrel, but it will come down to price. Boston seems adamant about not wanting to go five years … 

— The bullpen is the main area of interest. But World Series MVP Steve Pearce would still fit … 

— Steven Wright had knee surgery, finally providing the answer to why he disappeared in the postseason. (Maybe someone knew this but I kept waiting for him to appear on an October roster.) … 

— Dustin Pedroia is telling the team he will be ready for spring … 

— Chris Sale Cy Young finishes since 2012: 6th, 5th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 4th ... 

— The Red Sox did the right thing by extending Alex Cora.

 

Chicago Cubs

— As we said here last week, it is highly doubtful that a superstar such as Kris Bryant is truly available. Sure, the Cubs will listen to anything (as any team does, with exception of the Angels, who won’t listen on Mike Trout, an all-time great). There is a fair explanation of the thinking of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in this story by Patrick Mooney of The Athletic … 

— Peter Gammons pointed out that Bryant was en route to a 42-homer, .580 slugging percentage and .960 OPS before a shoulder injury May 19 … 

— Nico Hoerner, a shortstop out of Stanford, is impressing folks in the Arizona Fall League.

  

Chicago White Sox

— The White Sox have been connected to the biggest stars this winter, but with the team seemingly at least two years from contending, it’d be an interesting fit. Of the two mega stars on the market, Manny Machado has been linked more often, especially since the White Sox looked into a trade for Machado last winter. The White Sox don’t have a long history of signing clients of Scott Boras (i.e. Bryce Harper) but they did select Carlos Rodon, which has turned out to be a wise pick for them … 

— Matt Davidson’s potential switch to the mound is an interesting storyline. He said on MLB Network that he was going to pitch at USC until the Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round and made him a third baseman … 

— Avisail Garcia is on the block, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. He could also be a non-tender candidate after an injury-plagued year … 

— Luis Robert is wowing scouts in the Arizona Fall League. “Big tools,’ says one.

 

Cincinnati Reds

— The Reds have been talking to the Mariners about James Paxton, the Indians about their pitching (primarily Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco) and the Yankees about Sonny Gray. The prospects teams are focusing on are pitcher Hunter Greene, outfielder Taylor Trammell and infielder Nick Senzel. Paxton and Gray are the main focus at present. The Reds know they need pitching but are a bit leery about trading top prospects again. They have been burned a few times in recent years trading prospects for established players, most notably in the trade for Mat Latos with the Padres in which they gave up four prospects, including Yasmani Grandal. Gray may be a better alternative if they want to limit the prospect pain, though several teams are involved for him … 

— Matt Harvey makes sense as a free agent, especially if none of the trades come to fruition … 

— C. Trent Rosecrans has what The Athletic describes as a “granular” description of all the throwback jerseys the historic team intends to use this year, and there are many of them.

 

Cleveland Indians

— No, Michael Brantley won’t be back with the Indians, as Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon-Journal suggested … 

— They do need outfield help, however, so someone like Jon Jay could make sense. With limited revenue, they have concern about a payroll that reached $145 million …

— Amazing that the tiny Florida school of Stetson, with 3,100 students, had two top-three Cy Young finishers (Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom).

 

Colorado Rockies

— Superstar Nolan Arenado feels no pressure to agree to a long-term deal a year from his free agency, though the Rockies promise to continue to try … 

— Though the Rockies didn’t get big production from their catchers this year, Thomas Harding of MLB.com suggests they are an unlikely player for J.T. Realmuto.

 

Detroit Tigers

— The Astros showed interest in trading for Nick Castellanos last summer, reported Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. 

 

Houston Astros

— The Astros could make the most sense for Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt, and not just because Houston is his hometown team. The Astros’ 1B production has been only fair, and with several free agents, they are seeking reinforcements … 

— The Astros have been linked to lefty James Paxton, and their formidable rotation would look that much more so if they could pull off such a trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first mentioned the possibility … 

— Rosenthal also reported that the Astros had a deal in place last July for Bryce Harper that would have sent pitching prospect J.B. Bukauskas and two others to Washington that was nixed by Nats ownership. They also were reported to have some close to trading for Nick Castellanos to play a corner outfield spot … 

— Carlos Correa is thought to be looking around for a new agent in the wake of the troubles of Legacy, which has already lost Mookie Betts, Madison Bumgarner, Alex Bregman and other big stars. However, to this point Correa is staying with Greg Genske, the head of the Legacy baseball department who has told folks he supported his agents’ decision to go on their own if they so chose, and most of them did leave. At present Genske is said to be preparing to do his arbitration cases, though he could farm them out if he’s busy defending himself. The union continues to look into an allegation of improprieties … 

— Correa was hampered by a variety of issues last year, he had surgery to repair a deviated septum recently. He also had issues with his back last year, and according to mltraderumors.com had a 24 percent hard-hit rate after returning from his back ailment. That covered his final 133 plate appearances … 

— They have experienced severe “brain drain,” some through recruitment elsewhere, with Mike Elias, Sig Mejdal, Mike Fast, Dave Hudgens and Jeff Albert all leaving, as J.J. Cooper of Baseball America pointed out … 

— Lance McCullers pitched knowing he need Tommy John surgery at the end of the year. Remarkable.

 

Kansas City Royals

— Whit Merrifield, who became a star at 29, would seem like his timetable fits another team better. But as Sam Mellinger mentioned, GM Dayton Moore does not like to trade stars who have already made a connection with fans and in the clubhouse … 

— Ex-Royals manager Trey Hillman won the Korea Series, becoming the first U.S. manager to do so. He had also previously won the Japan Series, back in 2006. 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

— The Dodgers’ main area of interest appear to be the bullpen (especially someone who can help star closer Kenley Jansen) and catcher. Yasmani Grandal would seem to be unlikely to return since he would appear to expect a multiyear deal based on his decision to reject the $17.9-million qualifying offer, and the Dodgers, with two big-time prospects who are catchers (Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz), appear to be more interested in a short-term solution. That also may preclude them from chasing Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, though of course they could consider trading one of the two prospects, plus others, for Realmuto (the Marlins are thought to like righty Dustin May in particular) … 

— Some saw Grandal’s call as a gamble since he performed so poorly in the postseason, but one exec thought he could receive a $60 million deal or so. He’s been in the top three in a few offensive categories in recent years, but defensive lapses may give some teams serious pause … 

— Keibert Ruiz is impressing folks in the Arizona Fall League … 

— Second base could be another area of interest though they could find an in-house solution between Kike’ Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Max Muncy, as they did in the playoffs, with Hernandez getting the bulk of the playing time late … 

— With Ryu accepting (and Clayton Kershaw having been locked up), the rotation isn’t expecting to be a main area of concern … 

— The Dodgers also have an in-house managerial candidate in Raul Ibanez, who could replace Roberts someday (though Ibanez wasn’t interested in managing this year and rebuffed a couple inquiries, including one from Texas) … 

— Chase Utley is a Hall of Famer in this space. Jay Jaffe of Fangraphs has an explanation why he thinks both Utley and Joe Mauer are worthy.

 

Miami Marlins

— The J.T. Realmuto sale will rank up there with the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado derbies as the “big story of the Winter Meetings,” one executive predicts …

— Realmuto’s asking price was already sky high, but his performance in Japan can’t hurt … 

— About half the teams could be seen as a landing spot for Realmuto, though the Marlins do seem to prefer not to trade him within the division … 

— Some folks have suggested the Marlins should have traded Realmuto last year (though his value hasn’t exactly gone down) but held into Christian Yelich since Yelich had five years to go. Some also suggest the Marlins didn’t get a ton for their star players, but that’s not entirely fair. The trade of Dee Gordon was nothing short of fantastic; in that one, not only did they offload $38 million, they acquired three decent or better prospects. Also, they sold high on Giancarlo Stanton coming off his MVP season and 59 home runs, allowing them to deal most of his contract (they may have been able to be rid all of it or close to all of it if Stanton has accepted the Giants or Cardinals) …

— The Astros, Dodgers and Yankees are among the teams that make the most sense for Realmuto …

— The Marlins are known to be seeking a lefty bat via free agency or trade …

— The Marlins hired Adrian Lorenzo as special assistant and added three area scouts: Nate Adcock, Scott Fairbanks and Dana Duquette (the son of Dan). They are still searching for a pitching coach, assistant hitting coach and infield coach, however …

— Former team president David Samson’s contract expired on Halloween so he’s now free to talk openly about the Marlins, which he’s pretty good at in case any radio shows are interested (he currently works at CBS interactive and makes appearances on Dan Lebatard’s ESPN radio show, which is based in Miami). Samson was reportedly making close to $5 million annually while with the Marlins. 

 

Milwaukee Brewers

— Someone once said it’s a “copycat league,” and word is getting out that some other small-market teams are trying to replicate what the Brewers did, which was use a dominating and deep bullpen to get them to the NLCS, where they went all the way to Game 7 before losing to the Dodgers … 

— The Brewers did it with cost-efficient guys they acquired via trade (i.e. Josh Hader and Cory Knebel, who both came in deals) but with so many big-time relievers out there, it may be tempting to try to form a shutdown bullpen via the spending route, as the Rockies endeavored to do last winter. And free agent relievers are reporting surprisingly big interest from smaller spending teams which understand that building a big rotation is pricy but a top pen may be more doable for many. 

 

Minnesota Twins

— Is Joe Mauer a Hall of Famer? He is here. Three batting titles for a catcher is a remarkable achievement, and without the concussions, he was on his way to being an alltime great … 

— Dan Hayes has a story on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, who are looking to make comebacks off tough years … 

— The Twins are keeping hope that Paul Molitor will stay in the organization, though friends aren’t sure he will. Molitor isn’t the type to say anything negative about anything, but friends say he felt “blindsided” by his firing after one year.

 

New York Mets

— The Mets have decided they’d prefer to “spread the money around,” than go for Manny Machado. They are looking at catcher, possibly second base and maybe center field … — The Mets would love J.T. Realmuto but say they have the impression the Marlins don’t want to trade with them, which is quite possible since it’s in division …

— New GM Brodie Van Wagenen is thought to prefer Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo on the corners, with either Juan Lagares or someone they acquire in center field … — The Mets think they have the first base solution in house, whether it be Peter Alonso, Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores or some combination thereof … 

— Flores could be had in trade, though they will likely tender him a contact if he isn’t traded … 

— The Mets like Jim Riggleman as a bench coach candidate since four of the five teams he’s managed were in the NL. It probably was a lot to expect a pitching coach from the AL to learn NL managing right away, especially without an experienced bench coach at his side. There are other bench candidates being interviewed, as well …  

— Mike Matheny, ex Cardinals manager, is another who could make sense …

— Joel Sherman of the New York Post advocates big spending by the Mets. So does Tim Britton of The Athletic. We’ll see if the Mets agree … 

— It’s going to be interesting to see if the Mets, now with Jacob deGrom’s old agent, Wagenen, as their GM, are as anxious to lock up deGrom as you’d think. The Mets, as we know, have been a bit gun-shy on big deals with a spotty recent history; Mike Piazza was obviously one that worked but injuries curtailed Johan Santana’s career and unfortunately ended David Wright’s career … 

— The parting of ways with exec J.P. Ricciardi was mutual. Ricciardi is said to have had two years to go on his contract at close to a million dollars a year, so even with an offset, it cost the Mets some change. The A’s have been speculated as a possible landing spot for Ricciardi, who came up working for Billy Beane, and so might be the Giants, who are now run by Farhan Zaidi, ex of the A’s.

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New York Yankees

— With Alex Rodriguez a trusted adviser with the Yankees, that could bode well for his protegee’ Manny Machado in his interest in becoming a Yankee. A-Rod and Hal Steinbrenner are texting buddies, USA Today reported. Many weeks ago we wrote about how intrigued Machado is in the Yankees, and presumably that hasn’t changed …

— Steinbrenner was asked by Dave Lennon of Newsday whether it’s important that Machado explain his famous quotes to The Athletic about his stance on when not to hustle, and Steinbrenner answered that “it’s not important … it’s essential.” It sounds more and more like the Yankees are just as intrigued as Machado is about this union, however, if one reads between the lines … 

— As Jayson Stark of the Athletic reported, the Yankees are investigating Machado’s background. Their current plan is said to be “pitching, pitching, pitching and maybe Machado,” so they are serious about a potential pursuit. Stark suggested they will like what they find following a postseason that raised some questions thanks top some on-field incidents. One of the quotes gathered by Stark’s colleague Ken Rosenthal was from a former Orioles teammate who said, “I really like him. He was always a good teammate.” Rosenthal is as good a reporter as it out there, but it struck as funny that such an unqualified positive quote had to be anonymous … 

— C.C. Sabathia looks like he has an excellent chance at the Hall of Fame. Staying with the Yankees made sense for him since he certainly wants to retain an excellent chance to win, and he has that in New York. Plus, he and his family are said to like New Jersey, where they reside … 

— The Yankees seem determined to trade Sonny Gray. It would be a shock if he stayed there. Many teams are showing interest … 

— Folks believe Gray will thrive outside the Bronx, as George King of the New York Port writes … 

— Some Yankees fans were quite upset that Shohei Ohtani beat out Miguel Andujar for Rookie of the Year, but it was suggested in this space for weeks that Ohtani was the right choice. He did something truly special. And while some Yankees fans pointed out that Gary Sanchez didn’t win a couple years before due to less playing time than Michael Fulmer, but in my case at least, I did support Sanchez. But again, the main point is that Ohtani did something that was historic.

 

Oakland Athletics 

— Bob Melvin deserved Manager of the Year from here. Of course so did Alex Cora and Kevin Cash. Melvin had an all-time great managerial season, leading the team with baseball’s lowest payroll into the playoffs. The voting occurs before the postseason, of course … 

— J.P. Ricciardi, a Billy Beane disciple, would seem to be a candidate to return to the A’s after leaving the Mets … 

— The A’s made changes to their player development system. Melissa Lockard of The Athletic reported … 

— Edwin Jackson made an excellent case for at least one more year, and it would make sense for him to go back to the A’s. Not that the Coliseum was the reason for his success, but it certainly didn’t hurt. E-Jax has actually been a solid pitcher except for his brief time with the Cubs after signing his one big free agent deal.

RELATED: Is $500 million Harper's target for a deal?

Philadelphia Phillies

— Word floating around the GM meetings in San Diego is that Carlos Santana could be on the trading block, and it made sense since the Phillies are saying the plan is to play him at first base and third base (and Rhys Hoskins at left field and first base), and that’s a tough plan. Much better to just have Hoskins, a cornerstone player, play first base; he’s a terrific hitter but left field just didn’t seem to be his thing based on the metrics. And Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed that Santana is indeed on the block, saying a rival suggested the Phillies are “shopping the hell out of Santana.” … 

— Santana has $35 million to go over two years …  

— Matt Gelb of The Athletic wrote a nice story on a horrible situation, though manager Gabe Kapler handled the loss of his house with amazing maturity.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

— Josh Harrison is drawing serious interest. It probably helps that he had a positive DRS at four positions. Versatility will be rewarded this year … 

— Erik Gonzalez, who came from the Tribe in trade, gives them a shortstop option …

— Their big splash was Chris Archer at the deadline, so rivals don’t expect another one like that.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

— Bernie Miklasz of The Athletic argues for the Cardinals signing Harper but still finds 10 reasons not to … 

— Beyond Mike Moustakas and Josh Donaldson, who were mentioned in this space last week, Paul Goldschmidt is another who could potentially fit, as Jon Morosi of MLB Network mentioned. One reason Moustakas (and for that matter Harper) fit better is that the Cardinals are already pretty right handed.

 

San Diego Padres

— The Padres have been linked to Sonny Gray. He should do better wherever he goes.

 

San Francisco Giants

— Though there’s no real buzz about it yet, and it would take a lot of guts for new top man Farhan Zaidi to do it, a trade for Madison Bumgarner may make the most sense.

 

Seattle Mariners

— The reality is that, even if the Mariners wanted to do a full rebuild, they have a quartet of contracts that may be untradeable. Robinson Cano, who has $120 million over five years to go, may be the most tradeable of the four, provided they pay it down (probably by at least half). Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon look fairly untradeable at this point … 

— The acquisition of Mallex Smith, who was very briefly a Mariner earlier, puts Gordon in a funny spot, as Mariners people love Smith in center. Gordon prefers to play second base, anyway, but then again, so does Cano. The Mariners must know that Gordon is untradeable as they have taken a wise step to hire infield guru Perry Hill, a very close confidant of Gordon who more importantly turned Gordon into a Gold Glover in Miami … 

— Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggested Cano would make sense to be traded back to the Yankees for Jacoby Ellsbury, who has $47 million to go. That suggestion has been made before, and Cano presumably wouldn’t mind a return to the Yankees. Ellsbury had been reluctant to accept trades elsewhere in the past, but he hails from Oregon and wouldn’t seem to have much playing time available in the Bronx, so maybe he’d accept Seattle. It is believed he was amenable to the Giants last winter, though they showed no interest, as it turned out.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

— Joey Wendle was in a tough spot for the AL Rookie of the Year award. Not only was it a difficult year but Rays players are handicapped by a lack of publicity. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes about Wendle’s candidacy, and his 4.3 WAR certainly was a big point in his favor, though predictably, he finished fourth. Tough to argue with the top two being Shohei Ohtani and Miguel Andujar, but Wendle could have been third … 

— Topkin wrote that the Rays are most excited about Mike Zunino’s defense, game-calling and handling of pitchers. Offensively, he is a power source but obviously not someone will post a high batting average, at least at his stage of his career. He is a University of Florida product, so he’s going home so to speak.

 

Texas Rangers

— Doug Brocail, popular pitching coach, will not return, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first reported.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

— Even after a recent slump, top prospect Vlad Guerrero Jr. has big numbers in the Arizona Fall League … 

— Exec Ben Cherington had interviewed for the Orioles GM job. Interestingly, he did not pursue similar jobs with the Mets and Giants.

 

Washington Nationals 

— The $300-million offer to Bryce Harper looks more and more like window dressing the more you look at it. Word is that not only did it not include a no-trade cause, which is something he’s basically assured of getting, but that it may also have included some deferred monies. The Nats are famous for deferrals … 

— Ken Rosenthal suggested that GM Mike Rizzo will go about his business trying to add a starting pitcher and fixing what else needs to be fixed but that ultimately it will be up to ownership whether to go further for Harper … 

— Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated has a story about Harper’s earning potential. Funny, before the postseason 12 of 18 execs predicted Manny Machado would do better. That seems like a long time ago … 

— Tom Verducci wrote a previous story on Harper’s free agency, also in Sports Illustrated. Verducci did the first ever major story on Harper, a memorable piece touting Harper, then only 15, as baseball’s net great thing … 

— They were linked to Nathan Eovaldi, and that makes sense. He has the kind of stuff that impresses Rizzo, who made his bones as a scout. (Of course, Eovaldi probably impressed a lot of folks) … 

— They seem semi comfortable with a second base combo of Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick, who will be ready.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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