The Giants inked free agent Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract this winter and told him he’d have a legitimate shot at making the team as a fifth starter or long reliever.
Despite the promises, we considered Wellemeyer a longshot to make the team when he signed. But he has shot out of the gate this spring with a 1.20 ERA over five spring appearances and is out-pitching Madison Bumgarner, his 20-year-old competition for the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation. Bumgarner doesn’t have any experience above the Double-A level and has served up far too many runs in Cactus League play this spring while showing an inability to strike batters out.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Wellemeyer will indeed open the season as the Giants’ No. 5 starter and gathered this nugget from manager Bruce Bochy after the 31-year-old right-hander rattled off five scoreless innings Saturday against the Reds:
“He threw great,” Bochy said. “He attacked the zone and had command of
everything, and he threw strike one. He was on top of his game. He’s
thrown the ball well all spring.”
We can’t say for sure if the success will continue into the regular season. In fact, we’d rather bet against it. Wellemeyer owns a poor 4.74 career ERA and 1.51 WHIP, and went 7-10 last season with a 5.89 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 28 appearances (21 starts) for the Cardinals.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
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.
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.
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.