The latest from the Junior Circuit . . .
- The Marlins’ asking price for J.T. Realmuto has put off many a suitor, but the Astros are “still interested,” reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Per Morosi, the Fish are still insisting on one of either Forrest Whitley or outfielder Kyle Tucker, each near-consensus top-1o prospects, to headline the deal, so there’s been “no traction” in discussions. To say Whitley, 21, is drawing rave reviews in scouting circles would be to critically undersell the case – the 6’7 Texan is described by some scouts, per Baseball America, as the “best [pitching prospect] they’ve ever seen,” and has done little to discredit that view (aside, perhaps, from a 50-game suspension in early 2018 for a supposed positive banned-stimulant test) in his ascent through the system. Tucker has earned some detractors with his unorthodox swing and supposed nonchalance on the field, but he dominated (.332/.400/.590) the AAA-Pacific Coast League at age 21 and slots even higher than Whitley on some major-publication rankings. GM Jeff Luhnow, in the past, has been reluctant to deal from the cream of his system, though he did splurge in 2015’s deal for Carlos Gomez, departing with top-50 prospect Brett Phillips, top-100 Domingo Santana, and 2018 All-Star Josh Hader in the trade. Still, there is nothing close to precedent in the current Houston regime for a move of this scale.
- In a video segment for MLB Tonight, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart addressed the likelihood of Houston reuniting with free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel, calling the chances “slim.” Houston, apparently, has balked at the desired length of a proposed deal from Keuchel’s camp, but McTaggart believes the club could circle back if it hasn’t acquired a rotation piece by “late January.” As of yesterday, Keuchel was still believed to be seeking a deal of five years in length, and the many teams interested were far less so when broached with those demands. The Astros, with a righty-heavy, thin-back-end rotation, could certainly use their former ace, but with dual rotation-headliners Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole set to hit free agency after next season, the club may be stashing its funds in preparation.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports paints a bleak portrait of Adam Jones’ future with the Orioles, noting in a Friday mailbag that Jones’ likely earning power on the market is “more than the Orioles would give him.” Jones, 33, spent 11 seasons with the club, amassing an excellent 29.4 fWAR over the frame. His production – and in particular, his defense – has steadily waned in recent years, cratering with a dismal -18 DRS in center field last season. Jones’ days at the position are likely finished, though he may yet have value to add in a corner spot – the five-time all-star, after all, still projects around league-average next season, per Steamer, and has kept his strikeout rate low in the dawn of the swing-and-miss age.