MLB Free Agents 2019: Latest Rumors on Wheeler, Zimmerman and Realmuto

mandela namaste@@mandiba13Contributor INovember 19, 2019

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman hits a home run during the second inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

We're just a few weeks away from the start of MLB free agency, and the rumors are starting to fly fast and furious.

Let's go around the league and examine some news and notes.

        

Zack Wheeler to the Twin Cities?

After getting pulverized by the Yankees in a three-game ALDS sweep, it became clearer than ever that the Minnesota Twins need an upgrade in their starting rotation this offseason.

Well, they're in luck, as this year boasts one of the strongest starter markets in some time, and the Twins are already starting to test the waters.

Per Darren Wolfson of 1500 SKOR North Radio, the Twins met with former Mets starter Zack Wheeler and his representation at last week's GM Meetings. Nothing has come of that pairing just yet, but he would seem a natural fit in Minnesota.

The 29-year-old is not necessarily ace material, but he is a classic, competent mid-rotation arm, posting an 11-8 record with a 3.96 ERA and ranking top-10 in the National League with 195.1 innings pitched last year.

With most other Twins starters outside of Jose Berrios coming off poor seasons, Wheeler's start-to-start consistency could be a breath of fresh air for Minnesota and push it deeper into playoff contention. 

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Ryan Zimmerman, Former National?

The 15-year partnership between corner infielder Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals might be coming to an end.

Let's not get too carried away just yet, though. The Nationals declined the 35-year-old's $18 million club option for 2020, but they remain interested in a cheaper short-term partnership, per the Washington Post's Jesse Dougherty.

In the same article, though, it was reported the two sides had not yet convened as of general manager Mike Rizzo's press conference on November 12. 

It's still quite possible Zimmerman—the Nationals' first-ever draft pick—dons the red, white, and blue once again in 2020. Unlike other major sports, a degree of franchise loyalty still exists in Major League Baseball. But as of yet, there's no guarantee he will return to the capital.

        

Philly Wants to Lock Up Realmuto

The Philadelphia Phillies are prioritizing a contract extension for two-time All Star catcher JT Realmuto this winter, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury (and Phillies GM Matt Klentak, if you're interested in hearing it straight from the horse's mouth). 

The 28-year-old has one more season left on his current deal, so this note doesn't pertain directly to the upcoming free-agency period, but he's arguably been the best catcher in baseball over the last three years and will command a big deal from Philly, limiting its flexibility to pursue big-ticket free agents such as Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon this winter. 

The Phillies are going about this smartly, as Salisbury also reported they might sign Realmuto to a one-year, $10.5 million contract this offseason in order to preserve cap space for 2020.

Nevertheless, though, potentially sidelining a heavyweight such as the Phillies could position teams like the Dodgers, Yankees or other dark horses to land the top-billed free agents this winter.