One of the Mets’ offseason dramas involved Carlos Beltran, the front office and a disputed surgery clearance. Beltran, who was angry with the Mets’ front office at the time, is willing to let bygones be bygones:
“You know, it took me a while because I’m a human being, of course, and
I’m a person who has feelings. It took me like a
week for me to forget everything and focus on what is important for me.
What is important for me right now is just to be with the team, be
ready, and being able to play.”
Spring training tends to heal these kinds of emotional wounds. As for the physical wound, Beltran says he’s progressing nicely. Reporters on the scene today said that there was no limp in his walk and all appeared hunky dory.
Less than hunky dory was Beltran’s fashion sense, as evidenced by these pictures by Howard Simmons of the Daily News. Note the ugly shirt tucked into jeans! Behold the two-hole-deep white belt which was EXACTLY like one your old man had back in the 70s! Note also that Beltran, not content to rock a mere trucker’s hat, rocks what appears to be a very expensive takeoff on a trucker’s hat.
But perhaps the worst atrocity in that photo array is the last picture, in which Sandy Koufax — in Mets camp because apparently the Wilpons have taken an option on all Dodgers history prior to the 1970s — checks out Oliver Perez’s skills. The look on his face says “Scott Boras compared this guy to me last year?” Koufax is about as awesome as it comes, so he no doubt has ninjas or pirates or something on the payroll who will no doubt be paying Boras a visit after nightfall.
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.
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.