Skip Bayless lives to be contrary. We know that. But the key to being a halfway decent contrarian is to be at least half-smart about it, and to cause people to think a bit as a result of your less-than-intuitive position.
As his rant on Cliff Lee going to the Phillies makes clear, however, thinking isn’t big on his agenda. Not only is Cliff Lee equivalent to LeBron James in his mind — he calls him “LeBron Lee” — but “clearly he did not want the pressure of being THE ace” in Texas. “He did not want the pressure of going to the big city,” and “being THE reason the Yankees would be once again favored to win it all.” Bayless says he “lost a lot of respect” for Lee as a result.
Anyone want to bet a dime that if Lee signed with the Yankees Bayless wouldn’t slam him for being greedy? Anyone want to bet a dime that if Lee signed with Texas Bayless wouldn’t slam him for being afraid of the east coast? I know he’s a hack and I know we shouldn’t take guys like that seriously, but the fact is that he’s on a platform watched by millions, and many people’s opinions about baseball are formed by such garbage. Makes me want to cry.
But I guess he’s so handsome, friendly and inviting that ESPN is OK with overlooking his ineptness as an analyst in the interests of drawing a broader demographic. Which is totally understandable.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.