The next week-to-10-days will likely be the stick by which we measure the 2018-19 Braves’ off-season.
Arbitration filing season is now done and maybe teams will finally get around to finishing this team-building business. The Atlanta Braves managed to get all of the arbitration-eligibles signed up for new deals for 2019, so with that out of the way, we can get back to…
While there may be six teams still listed as suitors for the Marlins’ catcher, I gotta believe it’s really just two – the LA Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves – that are actually going to fight this out over the next few days.
This makes for a very interesting dynamic, since Alex Anthopoulos was employed by Andrew Friedman for the 20 months immediately preceding his move to the Braves.
Subsequent to that, there’ve been a lot of personnel changes with the Dodgers. In the wake of the reent departure of then-GM Farhad Zaidi to the Giants, President of Baseball Operations Friedman is taking over the Dodgers GM duties, and thus is shaping that team’s off-season activities… which I suspect was happening anyway.
So it is Anthopoulos who should have a bit of inside-scoop knowledge about what the Dodgers may be inclined to do about acquiring Realmuto – at the very least, he ought to know the strengths and weaknesses of their prospects and can react accordingly.
In Case You Came in Late
Yes, the Braves have 2 catchers already; but yes, they are also trying to get the best catcher in the majors from Miami. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com picks up the story:
MIAMI — J.T. Realmuto trade talks are once again picking up, as the Marlins are engaged in substantive discussions with six clubs.
According to a source, the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays and Reds are considered the front-runners to acquire Realmuto. … In return, Miami seeks a top prospect and more. In some cases, it would like a catcher with some big league experience to work with a young pitching staff.
With the signing of Yasmani Grandal this week, the remaining catcher market has come into better focus. Of the 6 teams, still said to be involved in talking to the Marlins, here are those with the biggest perceived needs at the position by our reckoning:
The teams that could choose to overwhelm the Marlins with prospects are the Padres, Dodgers, Astros, and Braves. But nobody has done that so far, and I wouldn’t expect that to change.
That said, the clubs most likely willing to give enough to satisfy Miami are – perhaps – just the Dodgers and Braves… hence the mano a mano face-off between Friedman and Anthopoulos.
Both teams are now in the interesting position of being able to view Realmuto as a ‘luxury’, and thus the lack of a deal here would not break either team’s season to come. However, the Braves face the bigger divisional challenge, and thus would benefit the most.
Of the rest, the Rays are likely the most in need of the boost – something to get them better competitive in the AL East, and are said to be ‘willing to be creative‘.
The Dodgers Move on Friday
This is interesting, and I’m still sorting through what it means, though I’d argue that trading for Russell Martin (from Toronto) gives the Dodgers more options.
Having Martin gives them a current depth chart of Martin and Austin Barnes, which – like Atlanta’s tandem of McCann and Flowers – is good enough to start the season with.
It also conveniently allows them to send Barnes over to Miami if they are able to work out a deal for Realmuto.
Thus there will be no desperation on the part of the Dodgers to make a deal, though they also have 1 singular motivation: wanting to overcome back-to-back bridesmaid roles in the World Series.
But the Braves have a motivation, too: getting Realmuto makes them the NL East favorites again – probably – and has the potential to set themselves up for not having to worry about the catching position for a while (JTR is under team control for 2 more seasons, but was said to be open to extension talks with a new club [cannot locate proof source on that]).