Because teams in tight pennant races trade their starting shortstops so often. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick in the form of a FrankenTweet:
Heard today that the Braves are getting calls from
some teams looking to “bottom feed” on underachieving SS Yunel
Escobar . . . Braves are hesitant to move Escobar because he’s
only 27, is super-talented and they think he might be in for a big
second half . . . Atlanta also doesn’t have an alternative at SS.
(Omar Infante is not an everyday guy). It’s hard trading a SS in
Omar Infante is not an every day guy?! Used to be people respected All-Stars. The nerve.
Anyway, Crasnick is right about all of that. The Braves tear their hair out at Escobar, but with a fragile Chipper Jones needing Infante to caddy for him and no Rafael Belliard-style uber glove man waiting in the wings to plug in at shortstop, there’s no way they’d lose Escobar. They may cut bait on him in the offseason — again, they really don’t like the guy all that much — but they need him right now.
In other news, now would probably be a good time to torture all of my fellow Braves fans by reminding them once again that if John Schuerholz had simply held his water, not traded for Mark Teixeira and allowed the 2007 Braves to finish the season in third place like they would have anyway, Elvis Andrus would be playing shortstop right now, Neftali Feliz would probably be filling Kenshin Kawakami’s place in the rotation and Jarrod Saltalamaccia and Matt Harrison could have been traded for an outfielder or something.
But of course I’m not one to dwell on the past.
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.