Lackey done, Red Sox work to get Cameron

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Update: Rosenthal reports that a two-year contract worth $15.5 million is nearly done.
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According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox, who have already come to terms with John Lackey today, are working on a two-year deal with Mike Cameron.
It’d be nice to see the perpetually underrated Cameron finally get a chance to work in a true hitter’s park for the first time in his career. He’s still a strong defensive center fielder, and he’s been completely healthy the last three years after missing time each of the previous three seasons.
Still, he’s not a perfect fit for a Red Sox team in need of a Jason Bay replacement. Jacoby Ellsbury’s defensive statistics were well down last year, but it was probably more a fluke than anything. Besides a poor throwing arm, his only flaw is that he takes some bad routes to balls and that’s something he’ll continue to improve at with experience. The Red Sox would likely push him to left with Cameron in the fold. Considering that Cameron has the significantly better arm, it’d make no sense to stash him in front of the Green Monster and leave Ellsbury in center.
The Red Sox also have Jeremy Hermida in the fold. Now, Cameron has about 70 points of OPS on Hermida these last two years, but if the Red Sox really believed that Hermida was going to post another 740 OPS, they never would have acquired him in the first place. I’d say the two project pretty similarly as hitters next year, which means the Red Sox would be mostly paying Cameron for his defense, and that might not be the right strategy given that Boston’s left fielders have little ground to cover 81 times per season.
Cameron had previously been linked most frequently with the Cubs, under the assumption that they’d sign him once they traded Milton Bradley. It looks like they’ll miss out now, which might force them to turn to Marlon Byrd or Coco Crisp in center.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.