J.T. Realmuto
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Padres, Dodgers may have taken lead on J.T. Realmuto talks

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As many as six teams have been linked to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto over the last month or so, but his most ardent suitors appear to be the Dodgers and Marlins, per recent reports from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi and Fancred’s Jon Heyman. Morosi adds that the Padres’ interest is conditioned on the opportunity to negotiate a contract extension with the All-Star backstop.

Realmuto, 27, finished off a five-year run with the Marlins in 2018. He earned his first All-Star designation after an explosive first half and batted .277/.340/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, an .825 OPS, and 4.8 fWAR by season’s end. He’s set to remain under team control through 2020, a plus for any team who, like the Padres, isn’t exactly verging on playoff contention this year. Given Realmuto’s undeniable talent and the high level of interest he’s attracted around the league, Miami can expect some top-tier talent in exchange for the slugger, though it’s not yet clear what the Dodgers or Padres are willing to give up.

Should Realmuto strike a deal in San Diego, he’ll headline an impressive array of catching depth. Defensive wizard Austin Hedges is still the Padres’ projected 2019 starter behind the dish, even if he carried a .231 average and 14 homers to Realmuto’s .277 average and 21 homers in 2018, and has the skill and durability to stick behind the plate for the majority of the season, too. Behind Hedges, 23-year-old rookie Francisco Mejia is also primed to make a difference for the team after last year’s breakout in Triple-A.

For now, however, the Dodgers and Padres are still looking at some competition for the catcher’s services. According to the latest from Heyman, the Reds, Braves, and Astros are numbered among those who have expressed interest so far.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.