This is a bit of a stretch. Neither he nor his agent used those words, and that’s normally what triggers this kind of post. But this is fun anyway: Marc Topkin, who covers the Rays for the St. Pete Times, waited for Manny Ramirez as he arrived at the Tampa airport last night:
He was pleasant enough as photographer Kathleen Flynn and I approached him as he stepped off the tram after flying in from Phoenix, and actually asked if I was there to pick him up. When I told him I’d seen a limo driver waiting for him downstairs, he laughed and said he didn’t need a limo, that was just a “humble” guy.
Ramirez was polite in a short chat as he rode the escalator, saying he “feels great” about playing for the Rays, talking about how he was in tremendous shape after extensive workouts at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona, and smiling when reminded of his exceptional numbers at Tropicana Field (48 extra base hits, 72 RBIs and 1.003 OPS in 77 games).
Ramirez played in the AL East for a long time. Topkin has covered the Rays forever, and is a very distinctive looking guy. Ramirez has likely been in Topkin’s presence scores of times, and has almost certainly been asked questions by the guy. In light of that, it cracks me up that Manny thought that Topkin was there to pick him up.
Someday I’d like to live in a world as magical as the one in which Manny Ramirez lives. I bet everything there is fresh and new and wonderful all the time.
And then there’s this.
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.