Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves it appears are getting ready to set off a bomb in this winter's trade market, as they are in talks to trade for the two best players the Marlins have left.
According to Jon Morosi, the Braves have contacted the Marlins to express interest in trading for outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto, sources said.
While the talks have yet to advance, there's little doubt that the Braves have the prospect depth to entice their National League East rival.
The Marlins have repeatedly said they would not trade Yelich and Realmuto unless they get great value in return.
Another MLB.com writer Mark Bowman reported that the Marlins and Braves were close to a deal during the Winter Meetings, but the Marlins slowed things down as they were dealing with the backlash from the Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, and Marcell Ozuna deals.
The Braves made some progress toward acquiring Yelich during the Winter Meetings. But the Marlins slowed things down as they were dealing with backlash from the Stanton/Gordon/Ozuna deals. Atlanta has maintained interest and there was always a sense the talks would resume. https://t.co/PaEgxCS02M— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) 4 de enero de 2018
One major reason for Anthopoulos to be opportunistic: Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, and Ender Inciarte are the only players on guaranteed contracts with the Braves beyond the 2018 season, providing Anthopoulos with a high degree of financial flexibility.
The Braves also are open to signing a free-agent starting pitcher, one source said this week, although they are not currently engaged in active negotiations within that marketplace. For now, the Braves have only three starters locked into rotation spots for 2018: Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and the newly acquired Brandon McCarthy.
Since the Braves aren't close to Major League Baseball's competitive balance tax threshold, Anthopoulos has the freedom to backload multiyear contracts without major financial repercussions. With many starting pitchers still unsigned -- Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, among others -- one could fall into the Braves' price range.