Valentine a finalist — but not the favorite — for the Nats job

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Nats have narrowed their managerial choices down to two: current skipper Jim Riggleman and Bobby Valentine.  However, the Nats are more likely to stay the course than make the sexier pick in Valentine, says Rosenthal, for the simple reason that Riggleman won’t demand as much money as Valentine is presumed to want.

One the one hand you can look at this as the Nats being cheap: Valentine is a better manager than Riggleman and the Nats need some identity, so why not pay for it?

But I can’t say it’s a bad move on their part.  The Nats aren’t ready to win yet and whether Bobby Valentine plans to be in the game long enough to see the process through — as opposed to simply get back into the Majors in order to become a viable candidate for other, more attractive jobs — is an open question. In contrast, given how interminable the Nats’ managerial search has seemed to be, we know that Riggleman has patience.

If I’m the Nats, I probably stay the course with company-man Riggleman until the point when they truly look like they’re ready to take it to next level.  He’ll abide by the pitch count restrictions the brass wants to place on Strasburg. He won’t rock the boat while the youngins mature.  If the team surprises under his watch, great, but mostly he’s around until the team starts to look like a winner.  Then Washington can court a marquee manager.

Maybe even Bobby Valentine.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.

Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.

Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.

Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.