Nationals interested in Grant Balfour; would like to trade Drew Storen

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After a flubbed signing with the Orioles, free agent reliever Grant Balfour has recently drawn some interest from the Nationals, Ken Rosenthal reports on FOX Sports. The Nationals have a trio of relievers who could close, but as Rosenthal explains, they would prefer Rafael Soriano’s $14 million option for 2015 not to vest and for Tyler Clippard to remain in the set-up role. They would also like to trade Drew Storen.

In his second year of arbitration eligibility, Storen will earn $3.5 million in 2014 and can become a free agent after the 2016 season. Rather than explore signing the 26-year-old to an extension, the Nationals would prefer to trade him as he is coming off of his worst season in four years as a Major Leaguer. Storen posted a 4.52 ERA in 61 2/3 innings. However, he was noticeably better after returning from a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse from August 2-14. Between August 16, his first start back in the big leagues, and the end of the season, Storen posted a 1.40 ERA in 19 1/3 innings. According to a report, Storen added a quick leg kick and altered his arm slot.

As for Balfour, the Orioles claim they backed out of their two-year, $15 million deal with Balfour due to wrist and knee concerns, rather than his right shoulder. He is coming off of four consecutive seasons with at least 55 innings pitched and a sub-2.60 ERA.

Phillies, J.T. Realmuto working on a long term deal

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies “are quietly trying to hammer out” a contract extension with J.T. Realmuto. He says it may take some time to be done — nothing is imminent — but that the sides are working on it.

Realmuto still has one final year of arbitration, and he’s likely to get $10 million or more for 2020 if nothing is done. It sounds as though he and the Phillies are both eager to cement a long term pact, however, that’ll keep him from hitting the free agent market next winter. Salisbury says the deal, once reached, could be for 4-5 years and $20+ million per season. He says an extension would likely not kick in until 2021. He and the club would agree to a separate one-year deal to cover 2020.

Realmuto, who is considered by most to be the top all-around catcher in the game at the moment, will turn 29 before the beginning of the 2020 season. He hit .275/.328/.493 with 25 homers and 83 driven in this past season, winning the Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove.