UPDATE: Andy Martino asked around and he says that Collins has not named Hernandez his second baseman. He’s merely in the mix, as they say. We could parse this I suppose — Martino is reporting peoples’ “sense” of the matter while Mike Puma says he got it from someone who has “direct knowledge” of the matter, but at some point the news is so small that if you parse the crap out of it you don’t have anything left to parse. It’s a job battle in which the established favorite is Luis Castillo. That is, by definition, small potatoes.
8:43 AM: Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Terry Collins has settled on a starting second baseman for the Mets. And it’s not Luis Castillo. Or Daniel Murphy. Or even Brad Emaus. No, it’s Luis Hernandez:
Disenchanted with what he has seen from Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner this spring, manager Terry Collins is preparing to name Luis Hernandez the starter at second base, a source with direct knowledge of Collins’ plans told The Post yesterday. The move will be contingent upon Collins convincing the front office to find roster space for Hernandez.
Hernandez has only had 12 plate appearances this spring, so it seems that Collins has made his choice by default rather than on the merits of Hernandez himself.
Not that Hernandez has much of a track record to begin with. He’ll be 27 this year and has spent parts of four seasons in the bigs, but has never had more than 91 plate appearances. His highest OBP was an even .300 in 2007 with the Orioles. He has 3,324 plate appearances in the minors, however, where his career OBP is … .302. And his career high in home runs was six, which he did back in 2004 while bopping around the Braves system. One hopes that with such a demonstrated inability to hit that he’s a whiz with the glove, but if he was all that you’d think he’d be a shortstop or something.
Baffling move if true.
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.