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Marlins open to offers on Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto

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The Marlins continue to field offers for outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto, per recent reports from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi and Joe Frisaro. As many as 12 teams have reportedly engaged in preliminary trade talks involving the two players, but the Marlins are prepared to hold out for the right deal — one that Frisaro says would require a “huge overpay.”

Yelich and Realmuto have publicly stated their desire to land elsewhere this winter, and given the current state of the team, it’s hard to blame them for seeking greener pastures. The Marlins, on the other hand, appear reluctant to jettison two valuable players with team-friendly contracts, especially now that shedding payroll is less of a priority than it was at the start of the offseason. Yelich is slated to earn $43.25 million through the 2021 season and carries a club option for 2022, while Realmuto is approaching three years of arbitration eligibility before he enters free agency in 2021.

It’s not inconceivable that the Marlins could begin to contend by the time Yelich and Realmuto are nearing the end of their contracts, but they have a long way to go in the rebuilding process first. Should they seriously entertain offers for the two, it makes sense that they’d focus on getting a prospect-heavy return to replenish their farm system, and Frisaro adds that the team seems highly unlikely to “water down” any potential trade proposals by throwing in right-hander Brad Ziegler ($9 million through 2018) or third baseman Martin Prado ($28.5 million through 2019) in order to shed an extra bit of payroll.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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