Unwilling to part with either Victor Robles or Juan Soto in J.T. Realmuto talks with the Marlins, the Nationals are instead open to centering a package for the star catcher around prospects Carter Kieboom and Erick Fedde, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The pair rank third and fourth among Nationals farmhands per both Baseball America and MLB.com, though neither Kieboom nor Fedde are considered among baseball’s 100 best prospects per those same publications. Emphasis on acquiring such players can at times be overstated, but many would be surprised if the Marlins didn’t pull at least one premium talent back for Realmuto. Meanwhile, Frisaro lists the Diamondbacks as another “potential suitor,” though he doesn’t specify the extent (if any) of the talks between the two sides, and the D-backs have a rather thin farm system overall.
More chatter from the East Coast…
- While some in the Nationals front office saw signs of sustainability within Matt Albers’ performance for the club last season, others weren’t convinced of his likelihood to repeat that performance for the entirety of a two-year contract (Twitter link from Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post). Since Albers sought (and ultimately found) a two-year agreement, Washington decided to hedge its bets elsewhere. The 35-year-old right-hander enjoyed an excellent 2017 season, pitching to a 1.62 ERA with 9.30 K/9 against 2.51 BB/9, but the risk in signing him to a multi-year deal probably lies in a .203 BABIP that seems likely to regress somewhat. On the other hand, he was one of the best relievers in baseball at inducing soft contact and preventing hard contact, so that’s at least a point in favor of low BABIP sustainability.
- Orioles reliever Zach Britton said that he’s “feeling really good” during a conference call at the O’s Fanfest (via Paul Folkemer of baltimorebaseball.com). The lefty recently had his second of three follow-ups with his doctor after rupturing his Achilles tendon during a December workout. “He was really happy with where I’m at,” Britton said. “Maybe a little ahead of schedule. Not skipping any steps, but just picking up the pace on things that I’m doing now. More walking, getting comfortable in a tennis shoe again, and things like that.” The soon-to-be free agent will reportedly be at spring training with the Orioles in Sarasota, Florida, though he won’t be at “full go.” An early return for their closer would be a huge boost to Baltimore whether they’re contenders or not. He’d dramatically improve the club’s chances to make the playoffs if he can replicate anything close to his 2015-2016 form down the stretch, but if the O’s are out of it before the trade deadline he could very well net a solid prospect return.