According to Kevin Burkhardt of SNY, the Mets added a pair of Tommy John survivors today by agreeing to one-year contracts with left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Taylor Buchholz.
Capuano, 32, returned from his second Tommy John surgery to post a 3.95 ERA and 54/21 K/BB ratio over 66 innings with the Brewers last season, including a 4.14 ERA over nine starts. It was his first appearance in the major leagues since 2007. The southpaw isn’t a hard thrower, but his velocity (87.4 mph) was at its highest since 2004. It’s not clear if the Mets will add another starter — Mike Puma of the New York Post hears this signing won’t stop them from pursuing other options — but he will presumably battle for a spot in the back end of the rotation during spring training.
Things didn’t go quite as swimmingly for Buchholz last season, as his comeback was sidetracked by back problems. He ended up posting a 3.75 ERA and 9/6 K/BB ratio over 12 innings between the Rockies and Blue Jays, averaging 89 mph on his fastball. Still, this is a guy who was a highly regarded prospect and posted a 2.17 ERA and 56/18 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings with the Rockies back in 2008, so this is a worthwhile gamble for a bullpen that is considered a question mark.
The Mets also designated right-hander Ryota Igarashi for assignment. He was signed to a two-year, $3 million contract last winter, but posted a disappointing 7.12 ERA and 25/18 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings in his first season stateside.
UPDATE: Capuano will earn a base salary of $1.5 million with the chance for more based on performance-based incentives. Buchholz’s deal is worth $600,000 and is not guaranteed.
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.