A pursuit, eh? Hopefully he’ll try to get away by swimming. With that shoulder, they’ll surely catch up to him fast!
The Nationals will be one of several teams to pursue Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander and former Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb, according to someone close to the Nationals. Webb, 31, ranked third in the majors with a 3.13 ERA from 2006 through 2008, but he has not thrown a major league pitch since opening day 2009 because of right shoulder surgery.
Well, that’s certainly way more realistic than chasing after Cliff Lee. Even if it’s nothing approaching a sure thing that Webb will ever be able to get major league hitters out again (and so far, so bad). When you’re Washington, and you’re both unable to develop your own, non-Strasburgian pitchers, and unable to attract top free agents, going after rehab cases isn’t the worst plan in the world. If it works, genius, because Webb was once a great pitcher. If it doesn’t, well, you’re not out too much. That is, unless they do what the A’s did with Ben Sheets and give him way too much money.
This isn’t the first trip to the scrap heap for the Nats, of course. Last year they signed Chien-Ming Wang on the same theory. That bore no fruit, but there are worse approaches than trying to get lucky with a fixer-upper.
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.