UPDATE, 9:31 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Royals will get catcher Lucas May and right-hander Elisaul Pimentel.
May, 25, has hit .296/.352/.496 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 260 at-bats for Triple-A Albuquerque. Pimentel, 22, has posted a 3.49 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 97 strikeouts in 90.1 innings for Single-A Great Lakes. These aren’t major prospects, but the Dodgers probably had to up the ante to beat out whatever the Giants were presenting.
9:14 PM: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Dodgers have acquired outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Royals for two minor leaguers.
Podsednik also drew heavy interest from the Giants, but the Dodgers swooped in and presented a better offer than their division rival.
The speedy outfielder hit .310/.353/.400 with five homers, 44 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 390 at-bats this season for the Royals. He will join an outfield mix in Los Angeles that already includes Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, 25-year-old Xavier Paul and the currently injured Manny Ramirez. Starts may be at a premium once Manny returns, but the Dodgers will find plenty of ways to use Podsednik.
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.