jeff francoeur royals presser

Jeff Francoeur already has Kansas City media under his spell

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It’s been less than a week since Jeff Francoeur signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Royals, but he predictably already has local media members in Kansas City writing the same type of overly glowing prose and outright fluff about him that became commonplace in Atlanta and New York.

Yesterday the Royals held a press conference to introduce Francoeur, after which Terez Paylor wrote the following introduction to an article in the Kansas City Star:

With a smile on his face and a brand-new No. 21 home jersey on his back, the newest Kansas City Royal plopped into a chair next to general manager Dayton Moore and proceeded to field questions from reporters Monday. Five minutes in–and several laughs later–one thing about Jeff Francoeur became perfectly clear: He does not lack personality, enthusiasm or (most important) hope about the future.

Seriously. Here’s a little more from the same article:

These are the positive things that players typically say during introductory news conferences, especially when it’s the offseason and it’s the Royals. But as Francoeur talked on this day, it’s hard not to believe him or Moore when they insist that better times are ahead.

Seriously. When it comes to people to trust “when they insist that better times are ahead” Dayton Moore and Jeff Francoeur would be pretty close to the bottom of my list, since one is a mistake-prone general manager of a consistently horrendous team and the other is an exceptionally overrated player who has the lowest OPS in baseball among all corner outfielders during the past three seasons. But hey, that’s just me.

Paylor goes on to make passing mention of Francoeur’s terrible on-base percentage, but mostly just brushes it aside because, after all, he “was once considered to be one of the best prospects in baseball.” As if that’s at all relevant for a 27-year-old with more than 3,400 plate appearances under his belt.

Francoeur is far from the worst player in baseball–although he ranks up there when teams insist on playing him every day–but the real source of the mockery he receives from folks like me is that the media members covering him on a daily basis can’t seem to avoid getting caught up in his sparkling personality and ability to give them good quotes. He’s a career .268/.310/.425 hitter who managed only a modest one-year deal to sign with his fourth team in seven years, yet the focus always seems to be on anything but his performance.

That must be one hell of a smile.

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.