And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Cardinals 7, Reds 3: Mike Leake got rocked and the Cardinals made a statement in game one of a big series. And it is only one game, Reds fans, even if it didn’t feel like it. Jim Edmonds’ Reds debut: 0 for 4. Theory: he’s a deep cover agent sent out by the Cards three years ago with the express purpose of hiding his tracks in Chicago, San Diego and Milwaukee before submarining the Reds. Very clever, La Russa. Very clever.

Red Sox 2, Yankees 1: I stand by my real-time Bard gushing from yesterday, subsequent Teixeira homer notwithstanding. Dude announced his presence with authority.

Astros 10, Braves 4: I’m coming down with something nasty. Feels like a flu. Aches all over and just general blah. Because of this I went to bed really early last night, turning this game off when the Braves were up 4-3. I’m glad I did because I don’t think I could have stood it to watch Kyle Farnsworth come into a close game, let alone blow the hell up like he did here. Single, throwing error, walk, single, wild pitch, and finally a walk for The Perfesser, and of course Peter Moylan came in and allowed basically everyone to score. If I was watching this I would have put a brick through my monitor. My guess: Farnsworth doesn’t see action for the rest of the year unless there’s a minimum of a six-run spread at the time.

Orioles 3, White Sox 2: And the O’s keep rolling. Walkoff blast for Brian Roberts in the 10th. The homer came off J.J. Putz, though, not Bobby Jenks so I suppose that kept Ozzie Guillen from committing homicide last night.

Rays 6, Tigers 3: It wasn’t efficient — 115 pitches in five innings — but I suppose David Price’s 9 Ks were effective enough. Eight losses in ten games for the Tigers. On the bright side, they can safely make October vacation plans now.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 4: Ken Macha has been putting Trevor Hoffman into games late again, probably as a means of getting him to 600 saves before the year is out. This wasn’t a save situation — it was a tie game in the tenth — but it probably shows the folly of continuing to put Hoffman into anything close to critical spots anymore, as the Dbacks tag him for three runs.

Giants 4, Cubs 3: Carlos Zambrano returned to the rotation and, while he only allowed two runs in five innings, he walked seven dudes and one of those runs scored on a wild pitch. So yeah, there’s more to work on than just anger management.

Angels 6, Royals 4: The Angels jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on as the Royals charged late. Bobby Abreu had three hits and drove in four from the leadoff spot. And by the way, can I tell you how much I love seeing Bobby Abreu in the leadoff spot? He was born for it — at least the latter-career, low power version of him was — and it’s nice to see Mike Scioscia finally get his mind around the fact that you don’t need a fast dude to bat first.

Mariners 3, Athletics 1: Dude: Triple play. Around-the-horn style, too, which is way more awesome than those “second baseman gets a line drive and everyone stands around confused while he randomly tags people and makes an anticlimactic throw to first to double-off a dude” kind.  And hey: let’s just ignore the fact that it the throw to first was almost certainly late, shall we? The M’s had a bad enough day without letting little old things like facts get in the way of a good story.

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.