From ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick comes word that the Phillies reached out to the Rangers recently about a possible trade for disgruntled infielder Michael Young, but that talks did not get far.
A source told Crasnick that the Phils were only “tire kicking” and that the conversation was “brief.”
As it should have been. The Phillies are already committed to Placido Polanco at third base, Jimmy Rollins at shortstop and Chase Utley at second. And they should be happy with that crew.
But it makes sense that the Phils would at least ask. The Rockies have done the same, as have the Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals. It’s safe to assume, really, that almost every major league club has at least made contact with the Rangers’ front office to see what kind of swap they might be open to.
The Rangers are really going to struggle to find a landing spot for Young. He is owed $48 million over the next three seasons, his defense at the hot corner is not great, and he has not produced quality offensive numbers away from the power-friendly confines of the Ballpark in Arlington. On top of all that, he is 34 years old.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels is not going to be forced into making a bad deal and he’s not simply going to eat the money remaining on Young’s contract. The veteran may simply have to suck it up and begin traveling to Rangers camp. There are plenty of at-bats available to him in Texas at DH and first base.
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.