The Nationals and the representative for free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto “have had early discussions,” Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic writes. Despite that, Ghiroli casts doubt on the Nationals signing Realmuto because of general manager Mike Rizzo’s suggestion earlier this week that the club doesn’t have the catcher position atop its list of priorities. Rizzo indicated first base and the outfield are bigger needs for the Nationals, who have Yan Gomes coming off a bounce-back season (over just 30 games) as their starting backstop. Even if the Nats want to count on Gomes as their starter in 2021, they could at least re-sign Kurt Suzuki or add a backup to replace him. Tres Barrera, who has totaled two plate appearances in the majors, is the only catcher on their 40-man roster after Gomes.
Here’s more from the open market:
- The Twins have not re-signed designated hitter Nelson Cruz yet, but president of baseball operations Derek Falvey told MLB Network Radio that the two sides are still “in contact.” Falvey went on to call Cruz “a special member of the Twins,” which was certainly true from 2019-20. The ageless Cruz, who will soon turn 41 next July, had arguably the two best seasons of his career in Minnesota. He slashed .308/.394/.626 during that time and ranked second in the majors in wRC+ (163) and fifth in home runs (57).
- The Blue Jays and free-agent infielder Ha-Seong Kim “have been in touch,” Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. The 25-year-old Kim hasn’t played in the majors yet, but he starred with the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization from 2014-20 and currently ranks as one of the top free agents on the market. It’s unclear where he would play in Toronto because the club has Bo Bichette occupying short, but Kim may be a fit at either second or third base.
- The Rockies have “had discussions” about a reunion with outfielder Kevin Pillar, according to manager Bud Black (via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post). Black isn’t sure how far those talks have gone, though. The 31-year-old Pillar, whom the Rockies acquired from the Red Sox over the summer, posted a career-high .288/.338/.462 line with six home runs and five stolen bases in 223 plate appearances last season.
- Tigers general manager Al Avila told MLB Network that his son, catcher Alex Avila, is on their list of potential free-agent pickups, Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets. However, Al Avila added that the Tigers aren’t prioritizing the catcher position at the moment. There is room for improvement at the spot, though, as the backstops on their 40-man roster – Grayson Greiner, Eric Haase and Jake Rogers – have all failed to record passable offensive numbers during their careers. That isn’t the case for the 33-year-old Alex Avila, owner of a .235/.348/.394 line in 3,527 plate appearances. He played with the Tigers from 2009-15 before moving on to a few other teams, most recently Minnesota.
- The Dodgers are the latest team to show interest in reliever Ryne Stanek, who’s on the world champions’ radar, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times relays. Stanek had a woeful 2020 with the Marlins, but he’s a known entity to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. As the Rays’ GM in 2013, Friedman used the 29th overall pick on Stanek.