Major League Baseball tends to go quiet around the Christmas holiday. With a little under a week to go, however, we should expect the typical amount of free agent, trade, and rumor mill activity. With that in mind, here are Saturday's latest rumblings.
Nationals interested in Realmuto
The Nationals are among the teams with interest in free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
Washington has had rumored interest in Realmuto for years, dating back to the Bryce Harper era. Why wouldn't they? He entered the winter ranked as CBS Sports' No. 2 free agent. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Realmuto is coming off the second-best offensive season of his career, hitting .266/.349/.491 with 11 homers in 47 games. Perhaps the best way to sum up Realmuto is to acknowledge that he hit the ball 95 mph or harder as frequently in 2020 as Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Pete Alonso did ... and that he accomplished that feat while playing above-average defense behind the plate. Realmuto is more athletic than the standard backstop, and he has averaged seven steals per pop since his first full season. If you're looking for nits to pick, you can bemoan his single-digit walk rate, or his propensity for swinging and missing. Otherwise, the best a fearmonger can do is point to the dicey history of 30-something catchers. Realmuto, nearing his age-30 season, has enough going for him that he's going to get paid -- and he's likely going to be worth it.
Heyman notes that it's unclear if the Nationals' ownership group would greenlight a Realmuto deal. Washington's Opening Day payroll is already projected to be around $150 million, or around $26 million less than it was supposed to be last Opening Day. There's no telling if general manager Mike Rizzo has the clearance to spend up to or more than that amount.
Padres interested in Gray
Gray, 31, has accumulated a 3.07 ERA (153 ERA+) and a 2.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two seasons with the Reds. In addition to his recent performance, he's appealing because of his contract. He has two years and just over $20 million guaranteed remaining on his deal, as well as a club option worth an additional $12 million.
It is worth noting that Larry Rothschild is the Padres pitching coach. Rothschild served as Gray's pitching coach during their shared time with the Yankees, a period that saw Gray underperform. It's unclear if the two would prove to be more compatible now.