MLB rumors: Phillies trying to close J.T. Realmuto deal; Blue Jays, Dodgers among teams after Justin Turner

Spring training is less than three weeks away and still 35 of our top 60 free agents remain unsigned, including 12 of the top 20. Here is the latest on Masahiro Tanaka and here are the latest hot stove rumblings.

Phillies trying to wrap up Realmuto deal

The Phillies are trying to close a deal with free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Heyman says the Braves are in the mix as well, though it’s entirely possible Atlanta is simply trying to drive up the price for a division rival. After all, the Braves have a pretty good catcher already (Travis d’Arnaud). Our R.J. Anderson ranked Realmuto as the No. 2 free agent available.

Realmuto, 30 in March, is the game’s best all-around catcher, and Philadelphia has reportedly offered him a deal in the $110 million range. That is presumably across five years, though the DJ LeMahieu and George Springer contracts suggest Realmuto can get a sixth year. Shockingly few contenders need a catcher right now, making a Realmuto reunion with the Phillies an obvious fit.

Turner has four possible options

Free agent infielder Justin Turner has four possible options, including re-signing with the Dodgers and joining the Blue Jays, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Heyman adds the Dodgers would prefer a two-year contract and are optimistic they can get a deal done. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Turner the No. 7 free agent available.

Turner, 36, remains productive, though his defense and durability have slipped in recent years. Los Angeles could easily plug Turner, a clubhouse leader, back in at third base to help balance their righty heavy lineup. Toronto could also put Turner at third base with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remaining at first. The Braves and Nationals stand out as other possible destinations, though that is my speculation.

Red Sox still in touch with Bradley

The Red Sox remain in touch with free agency center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters, including Chris Cotillo of Bloom added staying under the $210 million luxury tax threshold is “a factor, but not a mandate.” Cot’s Baseball Contracts has Boston’s 2021 luxury tax payroll at approximately $202 million.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bradley the No. 12 free agent available. Bradley, 31 in April, is an elite defender who fits best toward the bottom of a contender’s lineup. Boston’s outfield currently includes Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, and trade candidate Andrew Benintendi, though Renfroe struggles against righties, and none are as good defensively as Bradley. Also, the less time J.D. Martinez spends in the outfield, the better.

At least three teams after Simmons


The Blue Jays, Phillies, and Reds are among the teams pursuing free agent shortstop Andrelton Simmonsreports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Last week, three of four CBS Sports MLB writers said they prefer Simmons to other free agent shortstops like Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Simmons the No. 9 free agent available.

Simmons, 31, remains an above-average defender, though his defensive ratings have been trending down the last few years. That is not the most surprising thing now that he’s in his 30s (and has dealt with several leg injuries recently). The Phillies and Reds have big openings at short. The Blue Jays have kicked around moving Bo Bichette to third to make room for a new shortstop this winter.

Mets make offer to Bauer

The Mets have made free agent righty Trevor Bauer a short-term contract offer that would make him one of the game’s highest-paid players. The club is said to be “evaluating all aspects of Bauer’s strong social media presence.” Bauer, 30, won the NL Cy Young with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 73 innings in 2020. Former UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole holds the average annual salary record at $36 million. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Bauer the No. 1 starter and No. 3 player overall on the free agent market.

Cleveland re-signs Hernandez

Cleveland has re-signed second baseman Cesar Hernandez to a one-year deal with a club option. Hernandez, 30, won the AL Gold Glove at second base last year and authored a .355 on-base percentage with a league leading 20 doubles. He will return to second base this coming season and is expected to pair up with Andres Gimenez or Amed Rosario, both of whom came over in the Francisco Lindor trade, on the middle infield. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Hernandez the No. 32 free agent available.

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