Michael Cuddyer’s attempt to self-treat a wart on his foot during the offseason proved unsuccessful, so now he’s expected to miss 7-14 days after leaving Twins camp and returning to Minnesota to have it removed by a doctor.
Aside from it probably being pretty embarrassing for Cuddyer to have his foot wart make headlines, this makes me wonder why teams don’t keep better track of players’ health during the offseason.
Cuddyer will make $10.5 million this season, yet his employers didn’t know he was trying to self-treat a wart on his foot that will now require leaving spring training and missing multiple weeks of camp? Or how about his teammate Francisco Liriano being lax with his offseason conditioning program? Shouldn’t his employers, who’re paying him $4.3 million this year, have known about his lack of workouts before Liriano showed up to spring training and quickly experienced shoulder soreness when he finally started to throw?
This isn’t meant as a criticism of the Twins, as they’re hardly alone in these types of situations and Cuddyer’s wart problem (combined with Liriano’s arm soreness last month) is simply what got me thinking about the issue. But really, if a company is spending $100 million per year on a relatively small group of employees whose performance is entirely dependent on their health and physical status shouldn’t there be constant updates and room to intervene before the season is a month away?
Taking it to an extreme, how much would it cost to have a trainer visit each player on the 40-man roster in person once every six weeks during the offseason? Even if it would cost, say, $200,000, that’s half of the MLB minimum salary and about .002 percent of the average team’s payroll. Or am I nuts?
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.