The Daily News reminds us that the Yankees contract with WCBS-AM expires at the end of the 2011 season, so with it so do the contracts of radio voiced John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Moreover, there has not been any serious negotiation between the Yankees and WCBS yet, and other stations are reportedly interested in getting into the Yankees’ broadcasting business. If they do, it could mean the end of thhhhhhheeeeee line for Sterling and Waldman.
Thankfully I don’t have to listen to Sterling and Waldman very often, but I am interested in this for one angle: the Daily News says that a potential suitor for the Yankees games is the New York ESPN affiliate 1050 AM. Their signal is apparently far weaker than WCBS’s. One would think that the Yankees wouldn’t be interested in a deal that would lead to fewer viewers being able to hear the games, but if ESPN outbids WCBS, why wouldn’t they take the money? At that point the financial risk of lower ratings is on the station. We saw this dynamic play out with the Cardinals recently who, a few years ago left high-powered KMOX for a richer deal on another station that, it turns out, reached far fewer ears. The Cards have just rectified this by announcing a return to KMOX next year. The Tigers spent forever on WJR in Detroit — you could hear that signal all the way to North Carolina at night — but that ended years ago, and now you can’t follow them nearly as far outside of their local market as you used to be able to.
Who knows what will happen with the Yankees, but based on what I hear from folks about Sterling and Waldman, Yankees fans may not mind trading away a little broadcast range.
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.