ATLANTA -- As soon as the last out of the World Series was recorded, the Braves knew they were entering an offseason in which Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto's name might be mentioned every bit as frequently as mega free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.So it wasn't necessarily surprising to see
ATLANTA -- As soon as the last out of the World Series was recorded, the Braves knew they were entering an offseason in which Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto's name might be mentioned every bit as frequently as mega free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
So it wasn't necessarily surprising to see SiriusXM's Craig Mish report the Braves have a strong offer on the table for Realmuto. But within 30 minutes of this tweet being posted Wednesday morning, sources from both teams said Atlanta has not yet made an offer for Miami's starting catcher.
Some of the rumors that develop this time of year will quickly fade away. Yet others will either prove true or at least provide better indication of exactly what a free agent or a team is seeking. Thus, it's important and entertaining to initially provide some merit to the realistic whispers heard or read around this time of year.
When Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters at this year's GM Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., he once again said his only definitive needs this offseason are to acquire an outfielder and a catcher. But he also said he will be looking for ways to upgrade the pitching staff.
"We do need a corner outfielder, and we do need somebody else to catch with [Tyler Flowers]," Anthopoulos said. "If other opportunities arise with the rotation and bullpen, we'll look at that."
A source said the Braves have shown some interest in free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley and free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, but Atlanta has not made an offer or had a serious discussion with either of these players. Any discussion that has taken place has seemingly been part of the due process stage.
Though the Braves have not ruled out re-signing Nick Markakis, Brantley would add a little more power to the outfield mix and create the option of moving Ronald Acuna Jr. to right field. Brantley earned his third All-Star selection as he hit .309 with 17 homers and a .832 OPS for the Indians this year. Brantley finished third in balloting for the 2014 American League MVP Award. But the 31-year-old outfielder underwent two shoulder surgeries between the end of that memorable campaign and the end of the '15 season. He totaled 101 games over from 2016-17.
While Realmuto is the prime target to fill the need for a catcher, the Braves are far from the only team interested in the Marlins' All-Star. Thus, there's a need for a fallback plan like Ramos, who has continued to be productive since he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in 2016. He combined to hit .306 with 15 homers and a .845 OPS over 111 games for the Rays and Phillies this past season.
With their only highly regarded catching prospect, William Contreras (Atlanta's No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline), at least a season away from being Major League ready, the Braves need to find a catcher to bridge the gap. Flowers signed an extension that includes an option for the 2020 season. He'll either share the catching duties again next year or serve in a more traditional backup role.
Soroka should be ready for spring action
Anthopoulos said he expects Mike Soroka to report to Spring Training without any limitations. Right shoulder discomfort limited Soroka to just five starts after he made his Major League debut on May 1. But the top pitching prospect's velocity had returned to normal by the time he finished pitching in instructional league games in October.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.