Chipper Jones has spent the offseason rehabbing his surgically repaired knee and dry-heaving on his neighbor’s lawn, and yesterday general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he should be ready for Opening Day:
I think he’s progressed very well. He had a setback earlier in the winter when he was away for a week–I think he was actually on a hunting trip–and he was not doing the [leg] lifts. But as soon as he got back on his weights, he was fine. Right now, talking to the trainers, he should not have any restrictions coming into spring training.
According to O’Brien, if Jones isn’t ready for Opening Day the Braves will move Martin Prado back to third base and use Eric Hinske, Joe Mather, or Jordan Schafer in left field.
Jones is no longer the middle-of-the-order monster he once was and as a 39-year-old coming off a major surgery he’s a big question mark, but he still finished with an OPS above .800 and prior to the knee injury he was batting .307 with nine extra-base hits and a .924 OPS in 23 second-half games.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
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.