The Dodgers’ recent acquisition of Russell Martin hasn’t taken them out of the running for Marlins star J.T. Realmuto, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. To the contrary, the Dodgers are still discussing a potential Realmuto deal with Miami, and catching prospect Keibert Ruiz is among the names Miami is targeting. Although he opened the 2018 season at just 19 years of age, Ruiz spent the entire season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate. Ruiz was nearly five years younger than the average player in the Double-A Texas League, but the switch-hitter nevertheless held his own, hitting .268/.328/.401 with a dozen home runs and 14 doubles in a career-high 415 plate appearances. Ruiz also demonstrated preternatural bat-to-ball abilities, striking out in only eight percent of his plate appearances. He currently ranks 36th among all MLB prospects on the latest rankings from Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs.
Here’s more from the Senior Circuit…
- Nick Markakis told reporters on today’s conference call that he had larger offers in both overall value and in guaranteed length but felt strongly about returning to the Braves for a fifth season (link via Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Markakis re-upped with Atlanta on a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $6MM — a $4MM salary in 2019 and a $2MM buyout on a $6MM option for the 2020 season — and general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated that the unexpectedly affordable rate could help the Braves accomplish some other offseason goals. “Nick coming back on these terms allow us to pursue other things, have financial flexibility to improve the club in other ways,” said Anthopoulos. (David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets that the team’s next move may not occur until Spring Training is underway, though.) Burns notes that Markakis won’t suit up for all 162 games next season, as he did in 2018, which the club believes will help the 35-year-old to stay fresher and to avoid a second-half slump.
- Signing Paul Goldschmidt to an extension could be a bit more complicated for the Cardinals than many would think, as Mark Saxon of The Athletic explores in his latest column (subscription required). Goldschmidt has already signed what turned out to be one exceptionally team-friendly extension, and as the former union representative for the D-backs, he takes particular umbrage with team owners’ increasing reluctance toward spending in free agency. Saxon wonders whether Goldschmidt will feel obligated to push for a maximum-value contract given his views, though he emphasizes that Goldschmidt himself has declined to discuss his feelings about a new contract. And, as Saxon further writes, there are no indications that talks between the Cardinals and Goldschmidt’s agent, Casey Close, have begun.
- Sonny Gray spoke with reporters about his decision to sign an extension with the Reds before ever suiting up for a single game with the team (link via Bobby Nightengale Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Gray noted that his relationship with newly hired pitching coach Derek Johnson, who previously was his pitching coach at Vanderbilt, played a significant role in the decision. The Reds also have one of Gray’s college battery-mates, Curt Casali, on the roster as a backup to starter Tucker Barnhart. Gray also explained that his late father was a Reds fan, adding that the first MLB game he ever attended as a child was at Great American Ball Park. As to what prompted his struggles in New York this past season, Gray was uncertain but said he feels stronger having endured the struggles. “I honestly think you can go through some hardships at times and come out the other end better than you ever were,” Gray said.