Adrian Beltre really, really hates it when someone touches his head and his Red Sox teammates did it so much in the dugout last season that there’s a website filled with video clips of him freaking out.
He changed teams during the offseason and signed a five-year, $80 million contract, but that won’t keep his new teammates from picking up the head-touching slack. In fact, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes various Rangers are already making a habit of exploiting Beltre’s weird … I dunno, I guess phobia?
For instance, here’s Elvis Andrus:
Oh yeah … a bunch of times. He better get used to it. He might kick my tail, but I’m going to do it.
And now reigning MVP Josh Hamilton:
Guys just find out and everybody knows about Adrian. You can tell we get him to a point where he might lose it and then we back off. You don’t want it to come to a point where he doesn’t want to come to work because he feels tormented. I have to get to know him better, but that day’s coming.
Yes, you wouldn’t want to rub a man’s head without getting to know him better first.
The primary head-rubbing culprit in Boston was Victor Martinez, so at least Beltre is free from him. He’s still holding onto that grudge, though:
Sometimes I thought about killing him. But I thought about it. I have a family so I didn’t.
Beltre tried to tell Sullivan that the whole head-rubbing thing is actually “no big deal,” but there are a few dozen highly amusing video clips to suggest otherwise and a whole clubhouse full of brand new teammates don’t immediately take such glee in tormenting someone about something unless it’s a pretty big deal for them. Unfortunately for Beltre, he’s probably long past the whole “act like it doesn’t bother you” thing being an effective deterrent.
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.