LAS VEGAS -- The Dodgers' search for a catcher still could lead to a trade for Miami's J.T. Realmuto, and baseball sources indicated one or more additional teams could be involved in an expanded deal.Dodgers president Andrew Friedman had yet to make a Winter Meetings roster move by Wednesday afternoon.
LAS VEGAS -- The Dodgers' search for a catcher still could lead to a trade for Miami's J.T. Realmuto, and baseball sources indicated one or more additional teams could be involved in an expanded deal.
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman had yet to make a Winter Meetings roster move by Wednesday afternoon. He said it's "possible" he would leave on Thursday without making a move, "but I wouldn't be surprised if something happened."
"Each day we've gotten a lot more insight into what's possible and now it's weighing different things versus one another," he said. "We're starting to line up what makes the most sense for us."
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MLB Insider Mark Feinsand reported that the Dodgers -- who are shopping outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig and pitcher Alex Wood -- have continued conversations with the Reds, who are looking to unload injury-plagued pitcher Homer Bailey and the remaining $28 million guaranteed on his contract. Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart is signed through 2021.
Yasmani Grandal, the Dodgers' primary catcher last season, until the postseason, is a free agent. Austin Barnes, who replaced Grandal in the postseason, despite a disappointing regular season, has received repeated support from Friedman, who said he expects Barnes to rebound in 2019.
Realmuto, however, has averaged 132 games played over the past four seasons, which means Barnes would be a seldom-used backup if he isn't included in a trade. The Dodgers have four legit catching prospects (Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, Connor Wong and Diego Cartaya), but none is believed Major League-ready just yet.
Nonetheless, Realmuto has been one of the Dodgers' primary offseason targets because his metrics are at or near the top at his position and the All-Star is available, being the last stage of a Miami teardown that has included the departures of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna.
According to reports, the Marlins asked the Dodgers for a package that included 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger. That's aiming high for the Marlins, who have insisted they want what they consider fair value for Realmuto.
"I would consider it ideas, scenarios," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said early Wednesday night. "If you're engaging, then you're working toward doing something. I think right now it's still an idea phase."
The Dodgers also have been in touch with the Pirates about catcher Francisco Cervelli and view free agents such as Nick Hundley fallback options.
• Freidman said he's a huge advocate of having players bunt to beat defensive shifts, but rarely gets hitters to buy in.
"I think it's a missed opportunity for a lot of guys," Friedman said. "Batting average, on-base percentage would be really high if guys got better at it. I'm a huge proponent of it. I think it's a smart play."
So, why won't more players try it?
"Some guys aren't comfortable with it and feel like they're squaring around on a pitch they could have hit really hard," he said. "It's the fear of missing out on something -- that they could have done something more. Their mindset is, the next pitch I'm going to hit really hard. I do think it would translate into more hits and more wins."
• Friedman and manager Dave Roberts said they hope to cut the number of positions utilizing platoons.
"The ideal configuration is one to two platoons," said Friedman. "It keeps more guys active, with more clear-cut playing time. Then you have a bench that has versatility. We started with very few last year, then you have to read and react as the season goes along."
Getting Bellinger back to hitting left-handed pitching the way he did in 2017 would make him an everyday player again and Roberts said he sees Player Page for Max Muncy playing almost every day as well on the right side of the infield.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.