Ryan Howard is on the comeback trail

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Laugh all you want about the $105 million the Phillies still owe Ryan Howard. And laugh all you want about the .219/.295/.423 slash line the first baseman posted at the age of 32 last season in his return from a torn Achilles. In nine spring training games, Howard is looking more and more like the former MVP who terrorized pitchers across the league.

In 24 spring at-bats, Howard has slugged three homers, tied for the second-most among contestants in both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Two of those homers have come against name brand pitchers in Craig Kimbrel and R.A. Dickey, both hit to left-center. The third, his most recent, was a tape-measure shot to right against Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil. Along with the homers, Howard has hit three doubles and driven in ten runs.

Howard has traditionally been a high achiever in spring training. His OPS starting in 2011 — he did not participate in spring training last year — and working backwards to 2006 has been .904, .896, 1.180, 1.017, .710, and 1.133. Along with the fact that spring training stats are notoriously poor barometers by which to predict regular season success, one should take his performance in 24 at-bats thus far with a giant grain of salt. Still, the city of Philadelphia would love to see their star slugger back in form, reclaiming his place in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup.

Report: Marlins, Mets, Yankees have discussed three-team trade involving J.T. Realmuto

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Marlins, Mets, and Yankees have had discussions about a three-team trade in which Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto would go to the Mets. It’s not known which other players were discussed in the deal, but Rosenthal notes that the Mets wouldn’t be willing to part with Noah Syndergaard if they are only getting Realmuto in return.

Realmuto, 27, was the best offensive catcher in baseball in 2018, batting .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI in 531 plate appearances. He has two more years of team control remaining until he becomes eligible for free agency, adding to his value.

The Mets’ catching corps currently includes Kevin Plawecki and Travis d'Arnaud, so Realmuto would be a significant upgrade. Such a trade would be the club’s second big splash of the offseason as the Mets finalized a trade to acquire second baseman Robinson Canó and closer Edwin Díaz from the Mariners earlier this month.

Interestingly, the Mets and Yankees haven’t made a deal involving major league players since December 2004, when the two sides swapped pitchers Mike Stanton and Félix Heredia, Rosenthal points out.