The Nationals and Braves “are not ’in’ on” free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic (via Twitter). Whether that’s a truly definitive statement on those two clubs’ engagement with Kimbrel isn’t clear; each has been linked (his former team in Atlanta, especially) over the course of the winter and would surely be interested at the right price. The arms race in the NL East has continued all offseason long and has not really halted with the start of Spring Training. Financial considerations make several teams in the division conceivable suitors for Kimbrel, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams examined in depth.
More from the NL East:
- Outfielder Michael Conforto says he’s interested in exploring a potential extension with the Mets, per SNY.tv’s Andy Martino, though there’s no indication that talks will occur this spring. Conforto is still under control for three seasons, the first of which will come at a $4.025MM salary. While both he and GM Brodie Van Wagenen say they’re interested in a long-term relationship, Conforto also acknowledges that he doesn’t believe “the time’s here yet” for contract talks. Conforto, who recently celebrated his 26th birthday, says his focus is on the ballfield. He’ll be looking to build off of a strong run through his first four seasons in the majors, over which he carries a .251/.349/.476 slash with 76 home runs.
- Pitching health remains a major storyline in Braves camp; MLB.com’s Mark Bowman covered some updates today (Twitter link). It is beginning to seem questionable whether Mike Foltynewicz will be ready for the start of the season given that he hasn’t yet returned to the mound while resting his elbow. He’s said to be playing catch and feeling good, but evidently hasn’t been cleared to ramp things back up. Meanwhile, relievers Darren O’Day and A.J. Minter are each dealing with some issues — forearm for the former and shoulder for the latter. The expectation is that these minor maladies won’t prevent the two bullpen pieces from being ready for the start of the season — which the team will certainly hope to be the case, with Minter in particular representing a key member of the pen. Otherwise, the Braves have made some initial decisions on which of their young hurlers will continue to compete for active roster spots. As David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets, the Atlanta organization has sent a host of hurlers back to minors camp, including many of the team’s most exciting prospects. Among them, only Luiz Gohara has prior MLB experience. He has been slowed in camp by shoulder issues.