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MLB rumors: Marlins’ Realmuto asking price remains high; Phillies focus on Harper, Machado after Robertson deal

It’s 2019 and things should begin to pick back up in baseball’s offseason. We have plenty of big names on the board with 26 of our top 50 free agents still unsigned. We’re going to keep track of the day’s hot stove rumors and rumblings right here in this handy post, so make sure you check back for updates. Here’s the latest from Thursday.

Philly adds Robertson to their bullpen, focus on Harper and Machado now

The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a deal with free agent relief pitcher David Robertson, the team announced Thursday. It will be a two-year deal that guarantees him at least $23 million, reports Mark Feinsand of The contract contains a club option for a third season. 

Robertson, who will turn 34 on April 9, is coming off a 2018 season that saw him finish with a 3.23 ERA and an 8-3 record. Robertson was one of the best free agent relief pitchers available this offseason, and CBS Sports ranked him No. 22 on our Free Agent Tracker.

After improving their infield, outfield and bullpen this offseason, now the Phillies will be focused on landing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that rival teams believe that the Phillies will make the highest offer to each of the top free agents.

Miami wants big return for J.T. Realmuto

The Miami Marlins‘ asking price for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto continues to be very high, and Miami is prepared to carry the him into spring training, according to Joe Frisaro of Miami has made clear that they are seeking at least a top prospect or promising young big leaguer with controllable years of service time, and more, in return for Realmuto. The fact that Realmuto is still a Marlin tells you everything you need to know about the team’s asking price for their All-Star catcher, a rival executive told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The expectation during this hot stove season has been that the Marlins will trade Realmuto and likely do so for a heavy return. Realmuto, who turns 28 in March, has two years remaining in arbitration before qualifying for free agency in 2021. At the end of the 2018 season, Realmuto’s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, told MLB Network radio that his client was not interested in signing an extension with the Marlins. 

There have been a number of teams — the Dodgers, Astros, Rays and Padres are the frontrunners — that have expressed some level of interest in Realmuto.

Realmuto hit .277/.340/.484 with 30 doubles and 21 homers in 125 games last season. 

Potential Indians trade of Kluber, Bauer losing steam

One of the biggest rumors of this offseason has been the Cleveland Indians shopping one (or both) of their star right-handers, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. But according to Rosenthal, the chances of the Indians trading them seems to diminish by the day. One rival executive told Rosenthal that the Indians currently are more aggressive on acquiring “cheap roster fillers” than completing a blockbuster involving a starting pitcher.

It’s doubtful the Indians would make Kluber or Bauer available in July if they are in contention, but a number of other starting pitchers — from the DBacks’ Robbie Ray to the GiantsMadison Bumgarner to the Blue JaysMarcus Stroman — might have greater value at the deadline, provided they pitch well in the first half.

At the moment, teams can still choose from a long list of free-agent starters, including left-handers Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez and Derek Holland and right-handers James Shields, Ervin Santana and Edwin Jackson.

Cards may hang onto Jose Martinez

Even after trading for Paul Goldschmidt, the St. Louis Cardinals still have a lot of issues they must address this offseason. At the Winter Meetings in December, the Cards entertained inquiries about first baseman/outfielder Jose Martinez as they were prepared to deal him before the 2019 season begins. The motivation behind St. Louis’ intent to trade Martinez being that they don’t have a fit for him and he has value to other teams, the Rays, Astros and Dodgers were among those who showed interest.

But the Cardinals were reportedly never particularly eager to trade Martinez, who slashed .305/.364/.457 while starting the third-most number of games for the team last season. According to Rosenthal, the Cardinals are even less willing to move Martinez than they were previously.

Dexter Fowler‘s two years with the Cardinals have not been great. Fowler has hit .230/.328/.410, and he’s played in only 208 of 324 possible games. Also, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak called Fowler out for his effort level during a radio interview this past July. Fowler hasn’t played well, and it seems there’s a rift with the front office. The right offer could sway the Cardinals, but St. Louis could end up hanging onto Martinez for protection in case Fowler fails to bounce back.

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