Yesterday I noted a couple of scouts referring to Melvin Mora as “a ballplayer” and mused what, if anything, that could mean. My suspicion was that it’s a term baseball people use to refer to a guy who they really like but whom it would be misleading to describe primarily in terms of phenomenal baseball talents. Or that it’s just nonsense.
I should have Googled a bit more, because Andrew Simon of the Hitting the Cutoff Man blog researched this very question a couple of weeks ago. He found scores of examples of guys being referred to with the “he’s a ballplayer” thing in quotes, and broke them down by category. It’s some pretty stunning stuff that both enlightens us and makes us pray that Simon isn’t working in national security or public safety, because he clearly took some time with his head buried in this data.
The results, in my view, suggest that calling a guy a “ballplayer” is really a more robust way of calling someone a “gamer” or “scrappy,” with the added benefit that it seems to avoid the racial implications that “gamer” and “scrappy” seem to often provoke. You rarely see “scrappy” black or Latino guys. There are a lot of black and Latino “ballplayers.”
In the end I fear that it may be so broad a characterization that it’s not really useful, but for now I’m sort of cool with it for being rough shorthand for “good guy/hard worker/not dumb/no ego.”
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.